Online Dispute Resolution

Lead PI: Urs Gasser

In the context of our exploration of innovative digital institutions and models for governance, we are seeking to understand what role dispute resolution mechanisms — as elements of an emerging digital infrastructure — may play. Building upon research conducted in 2009 and a number of smaller workshops hosted by the Law Lab, we are focused on exploring the scope and capabilities of crowd-sourced online dispute resolution (ODR). This project investigates the theory and practice of applying the principles of “crowdsourcing” to new challenges in ODR. We have a draft white paper on the topic which explores the theoretical territory in more detail and maps areas for future research. This year, we have also defined a range of use cases—drawn from various contexts and sectors—that may be amenable to crowdsourced ODR.


  • Draft First Use Case. Based on the Stopbadware Project, a “Neighborhood Watch” initiative against spyware and other malicious software programs, this case study focuses in particular on the evolution of its appeals process. This first real-world- use case is a key example through which to explore central aspects of community-based dispute resolution mechanisms; it will also inform the development of future use cases in Spring 2011, and contribute to a set of technical recommendations that will support the development of prototypes for dispute resolution services as an integrated part of a cloud-based governance mechanism.
  • Produced Draft White Paper. This white paper seeks to engage with the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of online dispute resolution and crowdsourcing with more depth. Along with partners, we hope to strengthen our working hypotheses through the use of empirical data to aid us in mapping the many dimensions of crowdsourced ODR and to better understand its implications in practical scenarios.

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