New approaches, methods and findings in the study of mediation
One of the central issues in the study of the mediation of international conflicts and crises, and indeed in many other aspects of the social sciences, is how best to explain variance? Why do seemingly similar efforts produce such markedly different outcomes? The usual temptation is to fall back on idiosyncratic factors and explain observed variance with reference to personalities, unique circumstances, personal and perceptual factors and other exceptional conditions. The central argument of this book is that such efforts paint an incomplete picture of the conflict management process, and we do, in truth, have to explore variance in a much more systematic manner. If we are to understand why some patterns of conflict management work, or are effective, and others are not, we have to operate within an explicit theoretical framework, adopt systematic empirical approaches (and there is a vast array of such approaches) and use a diversity of methods to identify critical interactions, contexts and relationships. Ideally, we would pursue these multiple objectives by also employing state-of-the-art methods and techniques. This is what we propose to do in the chapters of this book.