Professor Richard Birke wins writing award

For the second time, Professor Richard Birke has won a writing award from a leading organization that promotes the use of alternative dispute resolution in business and public conflicts.

The New York-based CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution gave the award to Prof. Birke for an article called “Neuroscience and Settlement: An Examination of Scientific Innovations and Practical Applications” that appeared last year in the Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution. The article explored the idea that neuroscience, with its ever-increasing ability to peer into the brain while it gathers information and makes decisions, creates opportunities to study why some disputes settle and some do not.

“Negotiators and mediators are among those who hope that neuroscience can make them better at what they do,” Prof. Birke wrote. “Thus, despite contributions from economics, psychology and self-study, negotiators and mediators still want perspective on how and why people make decisions under conditions of risk and uncertainty.”

Helena Tavares Erickson, senior vice president and secretary of the CDR Institute for Dispute Resolution, said the five-judge award panel was nearly unanimous in its decision to give Prof. Birke the prize.

“What they thought was that it was an innovative piece that contributed something new to the field,” she said. “The judges felt his work was far and above the work of others.”

Although the prize didn’t include money, it likely will be cited numerous times by lawyers in the field and could result in speaking engagements for Prof. Birke.

“To win the award once felt great; to win it twice but me in an elite world,” Prof. Birke said. “I also feel this is an important piece for people to read.”

Prof. Birke’s previous writing award was in 1999, for an article called “Psychological Principles in Negotiating Civil Settlements,” which he co-wrote with Craig R. Fox. It appeared in Harvard Negotiation Law Review and focused on psychological obstacles to resolving disputes in a rational way.