Using BATNAs and WATNAs in online dispute resolution

By Andrade, F.; Novais, P.; Carneiro, D.; Zeleznikow, J.; Neves, J.

2010

Abstract

When contracting through software agents, disputes will inevitably arise. Thus there is an urgent need to find alternatives to litigation for resolving conflicts. Methods of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) need to be considered to resolve such disputes. Having agents understanding what the dispute is about, managing all interaction between the parties and even formulating proposed solutions is an important innovation. Hence it is of the utmost relevance that the agents may be able to recognise and evaluate the facts, the position of the parties and understand all the relevant data. In many circumstances, risk management and avoidance will be a crucial point to be considered. In this sense we analyze the usefulness of a parallel concept to BATNA – Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement, that of a WATNA – Worst Alternative to Negotiated Agreement, allowing the software agents to consider the space between BATNA and WATNA as a useful element to be taken into account when making or accepting a proposal. These software agents embodied with intelligent techniques are integrated in an architecture designed to provide support to the ODR in a system we have developed for the resolution of labour disputes - UMCourt. In this context software agents are used to compute and provide the parties with the best and worst alternative to a negotiated agreement.

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