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Todd I. Stark

Isn't a mediator essentially the same as a facilitator, in principle? If so then lack of substantive impact is an expected and welcome result. Facilitators are used in meetings mostly to make them quicker and less painful, not to improve the decision. Although coming to decision at all vs. deadlock sometimes seems to be a direct result of facilitation.

From my perspective, the value of a mediator in principle is to: (1) potentially understand the process of coming to agreement better than the participants (although this isn't critical), and more importantly (2) have no stake in an outcome at least with respect to one side vs. the other, and so be able to serve 3rd party procedures that break deadlocks and compensate for mistrust.

If that's true, then the mediator shouldn't have much if anything to do with the outcome, they should mostly reduce the cost and pain of the process.

Or is there more expected from mediation in particular?

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