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Wicked Societal Problems Challenge Our Collective Future: A Conversation on the Role of Negotiation and Conflict Management Frameworks in Moving Towards Solutions
Businesses are frequently given high marks for creating jobs and increasing prosperity, a vital challenge for our economic future. Corporate executives, however, get low marks for the three other main challenges of the 21st century: climate change and environment, managing resource scarcity, and reducing inequality of incomes. Globally, there is little faith in the ability of current executives to protect our future or ensure that we will continue to thrive in a world of abundance. Traditional approaches to negotiations and conflict management have at their core the concepts of economic interest, accounting, warfare, sports, and games. These are embraced by corporate leaders even as they are at odds with humanistic and holistic approaches essential to developing the next generation of engaged leaders. Addressing the challenges posed by the wicked problems humanity faces (Arora & Rovenpor, 2018) and fostering peace without letting the framing of problems constrain available solution sets (Rapoport 1962; Kopelman, 2020) will require a renewed focus on long-term sustainability, moving beyond economic principles and metrics (Fisher, et. al., 2018). As researchers, practitioners, and teachers we are at a crossroads. The roundtable provides an opportunity for a diverse set of scholars to engage in dialogue about how to place the concepts of social justice, equality and diversity, environmental justice, and human dignity at the center of our thinking and practice. Innovative frameworks for research and interventions grounded in logics that embrace long-term collective economic, environmental, and social sustainability are among the vital next steps for negotiation and conflict management.