International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution

Article

Lessons from the Frontiers of Failure

Second-Order Social Learning and Conflict Resolution

Keywords conflict resolution, social learning, intractability, failure, adaptation
Authors Oliver Ramsbotham
Author's information

222873 Oliver Ramsbotham
Emeritus Professor of Conflict Resolution, University of Bradford
  • Abstract

      From the beginning, second order social learning has been at the heart of conflict resolution. Learning from failure was seen by the founders of the field to be essential for individuals and social groups if they were to adapt and survive in a constantly changing environment. This article traces the origins of this concept within the field and then applies it to the field itself. How well has conflict resolution responded to failure during its 60 year development? Where are the ‘frontiers of failure’ today? The article ends with an example of adaptation to failure drawn from my own work on what can be done in the communicative sphere when, so far, conflict resolution does not work.

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