The idea that face–to–face communication among parties in conflict, in a context other than diplomatic negotiations, may contribute to conflict management and resolution is certainly not new. The American Friends Service Committee, in particular, has pioneered in such endeavors. In the last few years we have seen some exciting new experiments in this type of international communication, based on concepts and techniques from the behavioral sciences. Notable among these are the exercises in "controlled communication" of John Burton and his associates at the Centre for the Analysis of Conflict at University College, London, and the Fermeda Workshop organized by Leonard Doob and his associates at Yale University. Both approaches are designed to bring together representative of nations or national (ethnic) communities involved in active conflict, for face–to–face communication in a relatively isolated setting, free from governmental and diplomatic protocol. Discussions, following a relatively unstructured agenda, take place under the guidance of social scientists who are knowledgeable both about group process and about conflict theory. The talks are designed to produce changes in the participants' perceptions and attitudes and thus to facilitate creative problem–solving.
This chapter summarizes the Burton and Doob approaches and then, compares, evaluates, and attempts to integrate them.
We are now ready to return to a question that was raised in the introductory chapter to this volume and repeated, in a variety of contexts, in some of the chapters that followed: What relevance, if any, do social–psychological approaches have to basic problems in international relations? Specifically, what is their potential relevance to the analysis of issues underlying policy formulation? And what is their potential relevance to the development of theory in international relations?