Over the past 25 years, CONCUR has worked to analyze and resolve a wide range of disputes. Our publications span analysis of specific policy issues and offer advice on process tools to structure effective negotiations.

Our project work has involved water resources, fisheries, forests, land use, wetlands, endangered species protection, facility siting, waste remediation, health risk assessment, flood control and cross-cultural conflicts involving indigenous and developing country communities. To document and learn from these cases, we at CONCUR regularly write working papers, journal articles, and book chapters. We also speak as conference presenters and guest lecturers; a summary of this work can be found here.


Book Chapters

Chapter 9 - Desalination in California: The California Coastal Commission Poseidon Water Joint Fact-Finding Process

Joint Fact-Finding In Urban Planning and Environmental Disputes

The chapter lays out the impetus for the joint fact-finding approach to provide broadly credible information for consideration in the California Coastal Commission’s permit review, the procedure we used to build the process, and some of the challenges inherent in the work.

McCreary, Scott, and Cowart, Meredith. “Chapter 9 – Desalination in California.” Joint Fact-Finding in Urban Planning and Environmental Disputes. Ed. Masahiro Matsuura and Todd Schnek. Routledge, 2016. 11-38. Print.

Case 6 - Resolving Science-Intensive Public Policy Disputes: Reflections on the New York Bight Initiative

The Consensus Building Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Reaching Agreement

Reports on a model study of the use of joint fact-finding techniques to help resolve complex environmental issues. The substantive focus of the Bight Initiative was the issue of managing PCBs in the ocean region adjacent to New York Harbor known as the New York Bight. This chapter authored by Scott McCreary is one of 17 case studies, which complements seventeen chapters on specific topics in Consensus Building.

McCreary, Scott. “Case 6: Resolving Science-Intensive Public Policy Disputes: Reflection on the New York Bight Initiative.” The Consensus Building Handbook: A comprehensive Guid to Reaching Agreement. By Lawrence Susskind and Sarah McKernan. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1999. 829-58. Print.

Working Papers

Observations from Mediated Cases: How Organizations and Relationships Can Transform to Implement New Environmental Policies.

John K. Gamman, Ph.D. and Scott T. McCreary, Ph.D.

This working paper is a collection of some the personal reflections of Principals John Gamman and Scott McCreary, drawing from several complex environmental policy cases they have mediated over the last 20 years. The paper discusses how common obstacles to more effective negotiating can be overcome, by both individuals and organizations, to allow them to make the transformation required by the demands of new environmental policies. Topics include: how to deal with conflict within your own organization in order to create a cohesive external negotiating strategy; the impact of withholding crucial information during a negotiation; how focusing on the needs of others creates more value to be claimed in a negotiation.

Finding Solutions for the Cleanup of the Largest Land-Based Oil Spill in the United States: Utilizing a Neutral, Expert, Fact-Fiding Panel in the Guadalupe Oil Field Mediation.

John K. Gamman, Scott. T. McCreary, Steve Lustgarden.

CONCUR mediated the Guadalupe Oil Field (GOF) mediation process involving the characterization and cleanup of a 3000-acre former oil field in coastal California. The GOF mediation is a highly complex, science-intensive case marked by enormous technical and scientific uncertainty. In addition, the oil field possesses environmental values of national significance, including several endangered species and wetland, coastal, and riparian resources. In this paper, we describe CONCUR's facilitation of the Pilot Test Panel (PTP), a neutral fact-finding panel of three experts in oil spill cleanup technologies which is part of the GOF mediation. Our aim in this paper is to inform readers interested in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) of the opportunities and obstacles in utilizing a neutral panel for the purpose of joint fact-finding in a scientifically and technically complex case.

An Initial Look at Prospects for Using Mediation to Resolve Coastal Resource Management Disputes in Israel. Scott McCreary. Presented at the Workshop on Environment, Dispute, and Conflict Resolution, January 20-22, 1999.

Examines the sources of complexity in coastal resource management disputes nationally and internationally. Presents a brief case study of mediation-based planning for the Tijuana Estuary Research Reserve at the U.S.-Mexico Border. Poses questions to initiate a national dialogue on resolution of coastal land use conflicts in Israel.

Participation and Representation in Environmental Decision Making in the Pacific Rim: Reflections on Negotiation-Based Models of Practice. Scott. Presented at the Conference on Democratic Design and Planning for the Pacific Rim, June 24, 1999.

Presents four propositions to frame a cross-cultural discussion about the potential scope of participation in planning and design disputes. Examines the role of planners and designers and the relative merits of convening structured negotiation processes.

Mediated Joint Fact-Finding as a Strategy for Resolving Environmental Policy Disputes: Facilitated Independent Scientific Review of the CALFED Water Conservation Goals.

Scott McCreary, Bennett Brooks and Roberta Borgonovo. Presented at the SCMA 1999 Annual Conference, Malibu, California, October 30, 1999.

Contested technical information often underlies environmental policy disputes. This presentation highlights mediated joint fact-finding as a strategy for building understanding and resolving technically complex issues.

Challenges in Contracting for Environmental Dispute Resolution.

Scott McCreary, Prepared for the NCCM Panel, January 15, 1993.

Describes necessary preconditions for successful contracting. The paper reviews advantages and disadvantages posed by different types of project opportunities.

A First Look Back at the San Francisco Estuary Project.

Scott T. McCreary and Cornelia Tietke, Submitted to Coastal Zone '93, March 2, 1993.

Details the components of the SFEP's Comprehensive Conservation and management plan, including its consensus-building aspects. The paper suggests some criteria for weighing the project's effectiveness.

Can Mediation Help Resolve Napa County's Top Ten Public Policy Disputes?

Scott McCreary and Chuck Meibeyer. Based on a presentation at the Napa Mediation Week Reception, April 22, 1993.

Focuses on the possibilities of using mediation and mutual gains bargaining to resolve ten of Napa County's public policy disputes, which are fairly typical of local land use issues.

Advice to City Attorneys: Choosing a Mediator to Help Resolve Disputes Involving Local Land Use, Environmental, and Public Policy Decisions.

Scott T. McCreary, John K. Gamman and Martha Neuman. Presented to the League of California Cities 95th Annual Conference October 18, 1993.

Gives city attorneys practical advice in deciding when to initiate mediation, what kinds of qualifications to seek in recruiting a mediator, and the kinds of steps to build into a mediation process. The paper includes questions to use in choosing a mediator and outlines several specific roles for city attorneys.

A Prototype System for Classifying Watersheds in the San Francisco Estuary Region.

Scott McCreary, Josh Langenthal, Martha Neuman, Merrill Buice and Bonita Warren. September 27, 1993.

Presents the results of a watershed classification exercise undertaken for the San Francisco Estuary Project. Using specific data about the San Francisco Estuary. Illustrates the classification and ranking methodology and the results it yields. Outlines the rationale for classification and describes the methodology, findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

Regional Solutions to Environmental Problems: Strategies for Overcoming Institutionalized Nimbyism.

Scott McCreary, John Gamman, and Martha Neuman. Presented to the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), October 6, 1993.

Presented to the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) this paper reviews some challenges in California Environmental Policy Making, characterizes the fragmented nature of Bay Area Environmental Management, and also characterizes some subregional initiatives that show promise in breaking institutional deadlocks.

Mediating a Statewide Environmental Dispute in Louisiana.

Scott T. McCreary and John K. Gamman, Submitted to Consensus Newsletter, Harvard Program on Negotiation, March 15, 1992.

Discusses the process by which the landmark Louisiana Environmental Action Plan was created and ratified. This comparative risk project used mediation techniques to name and rank Louisiana's 35 most pressing environmental issues. All parties to the negotiation signed the final agreement.

Using Case Studies of Actual Negotiations to Evaluate Dispute Resolution and to Design More Effective Dispute Resolution Systems.

Scott T. McCreary, September 22, 1992.

A 3-page paper fully described by its title. Includes a table of criteria for evaluating the success of public policy mediation.

Ratification of Informal Agreements and Their Linkage to Formal Binding Agreements.

Scott McCreary, John Gamman, and Cornelia Tietke, December 9, 1992.

Discusses the need for a ratification step to bring the mediation process to a logical conclusion. Using two examples it shows how informal agreements can be translated into binding agreements. Finally, it provides advice for mediators and facilitators.

Articles and Reprints

Creating Stable Agreements in Marine Policy: Learning from the South Coast Marine Life Protection Act Initiative

Scott McCreary, Phyllis Griffman, Meredith Cowart. Negotiation Journal Volume 32, Issue 1, pages 23–48, January 2016

We at CONCUR are committed to actively reflecting on professional practice and advancing and critically testing theory in day-to-day operation. Our article “Creating Stable Agreements in Marine Policy: Learning from the South Coast Marine Life Protection Act Initiative” http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nejo.12145/full
in Negotiation Journal, published by the Harvard Program on Negotiation exemplifies this approach.

Our analysis is built on multiple tracks of information: our first-hand experience as participants the process, a detailed post-hoc survey of the participants of RSG members jointly conducted with our partners at the USC Sea Grant program, and a close review of relevant literature--which is based on dozens of other cases of conflict resolution efforts. We highlight four major problematic process design choices that encouraged stakeholders to engage in positional bargaining, discouraged them from developing cross-interest agreements, and ultimately led to a distrust of process legitimacy. We hope that this deeper dive into the California MLPA process can improve future marine planning processes around the globe and valuable insights for the launch of other collaborative processes.

"Science-based and stakeholder-driven marine protected area network planning: a successful case study from north central California"

Gleason, Mary, Scott McCreary, Melissa Miller-Henson, John Ugoretz, Evan Fox, Matt Merrifield, Will McClintock, Paulo Serpa, Kathryn Hoffman. In Ocean & Coastal Management 53 (2010) 52-68. January 2010.

CONCUR Principal Scott McCreary co-authored this article with Marine Life Protection Act Initiative colleagues. In documenting the Initiative's North Central Coast Regional Stakeholder Group process, the article highlights enabling factors, strategic principles and key decision support elements that accounted for a successful collaborative planning process. One of first peer-reviewed articles to document planning for a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), the authors link the rich case study to published literature on conservation biology and public policy mediation. Full reprints of the published article are available for download/purchase via the journal publisher at http://www.journals.elsevier.com/ocean-and-coastal-management/.

Applying a Mediated Negotiation Framework to Integrated Coastal Zone Management.

Scott T. McCreary et. al. May 4, 2000; Coastal Management Journal, 29(3):183-216, 2001.

Presents a typology to classify the way coastal management literature addresses conflict resolution. Describes the need for detailed case studies on the use of alternative dispute resolution to solve complex coastal issues with multiple parties. Presents two case studies of CONCUR’s work as a neutral mediator to resolve issues using a formal stepwise model emphasizing stakeholder analysis, joint fact-finding and single text negotiation.

Refining and Testing Joint Fact-Finding for Environmental Dispute Resolution: Ten Years of Success.

Scott T. McCreary, John K. Gamman, et.al. May 4, 2000. Mediation Quarterly, Volume 18 (4).

Describes the advantages of joint fact-finding techniques over the more traditional "blue ribbon panel" and "adversary science" models. Describes how to implement joint-fact finding techniques. Finally, the paper suggests means for linking the results of the joint fact-finding process to a final agreement. Summarizes CONCUR's use of the technique in several cases.

Bioregional Conflict Resolution: Rebuilding Community in Watershed Planning and Organizing.

John Gamman, Michael Vincent McGinnis, and John Woolley. Environmental Management, pp. 1-12. July 1999.

Characterizes the valued-based conflicts that watershed managers are likely to face in planning. The authors propose that utilizing collaborative decision-making strategies is important, but successful long-term watershed planning requires rebuilding a community-based infrastructure that can support important social and bioregional networks and partnerships.

How Can Joint Fact-Finding Help Coastal Management: Facilitated Independent Scientific Review of the CALFED Agricultural Water Conservation Goals.

Scott T. McCreary and Tom Gohring. From Coastal Zone 99: Abstracts of Presentations, July 27-29, 1999, pp. 99-101. Edited by Urban Harbors Institute University of Massachusetts Boston, 1998.

Presented at Coastal Zone '99. Tracks the development and execution of a joint fact-finding process to craft an agreement on water conservation as part of the CALFED Water Use Efficiency Program. Written from the dual standpoints of an agency convenor and a nonpartisan facilitator.

Identifying and Overcoming Obstacles to Resolving Cross-Cultural Disputes.

John K. Gamman. From Cultural Survival, Vol. 19, No. 3, 1995.

This article discusses the relationship of culture to environmental negotiations, and the importance of the "culture of decision-making." Included in the article are two case studies of environmental negotiations in the Caribbean. Finally, the author examines how to create negotiated partnerships for sustainable development.

Independent Fact-Finding as a Catalyst for Cross-Cultural Dialogue: Assessing Impacts of Oil and Gas Development in Ecuador's Oriente Region.

Scott T. McCreary. From Cultural Survival, Vol. 19, No. 3, 1995.

Reviews the author's experience on a team that conducted an independent review of environmental impacts associated with oil and gas exploration in Ecuador's Oriente (Amazon) region. Examined in the article are the strategies used for framing the issue for investigation, information gathering methods used to redress power imbalances, and the presentation of and response to the Independent Review Team's report. Concludes with recommendations for using an independent review team model to initiate cross-cultural negotiation.

Facilitated Negotiation: A New Solution for Dealing with Public Siting Controversies.

John K. Gamman and John C. Jostes. From MSW Management, Elements, 1994.

Describes problems with current and describes elements of developing a new siting approach using consensus-based agreements. Discusses critical elements in facility siting and preventing unstable relationships between the parties. A consensual decision-making process for siting controversial facilities is outlined, including establishing key advisory groups, designing a facility-siting dialogue, and transforming conflict into an opportunity to gain agreements.

Battle of the Bulging Metropolis: Negotiating Our Way into Infill.

Scott T. McCreary, John K. Gamman and Staci L. Lanza. From On The Ground, Vol. 1, No. 1, Fall 1994.

Discusses the steps to successful land-use dispute resolution, and describes key factors to consider in choosing mediation.

A Process for Incorporating Comparative Risk into Environmental Policymaking in Louisiana.

Regina Thompson, Paul H. Templet, John K. Gamman, Scott T. McCreary, and Margaret A. Reams. From Risk Analysis, Vol. 14, No. 5, 1994.

Examines the procedures and findings of Louisiana's effort to bring together scientific information and public perceptions in a comprehensive risk analysis of pressing environmental problems.

Land Use Change and Impacts on the San Francisco Estuary: A Regional Assessment with National Policy Implications.

Scott McCreary, Robert Twiss, Bonita Warren, Carolyn White, Susan Huse, Kenneth Gardels, and Dominic Roques. From Coastal Management, Vol. 20, 1992.

Reports on the methods, findings, and policy implications of a major study undertaken for the San Francisco Estuary Project. Summarizes the legislative impetus for improved estuarine management. Also included is a discussion of the authors' analysis of the effects of land use change on the estuary, and how the findings relate to several management options to help frame the debate over estuarine management.

Prospects for Transfer of the California Conservancy Model for Habitat Restoration to Other Coastal States.

Scott McCreary, Mark Adams. From Coastal Management, Vol. 16, 1988.

This paper considers unmet wetlands management needs that a Conservancy could fulfill, identifies major obstacles that could block creation of such a bureau, and suggests ways to overcome these obstacles and proceed with state-sponsored programs of habitat restoration.

Other Publications and Reports

Meeting the Challenges of Mediating Land Use and Environmental Disputes in California in the 1990's.

Scott McCreary, April 28, 1995.

Addresses some of the special challenges and opportunities posed by the mediation of land use disputes in California. It sets forth some hopeful trends for land use mediation, and proposes a preliminary agenda for encouraging land use and environmental mediation in the state.

Growth Management: Impacts of Population Growth on Natural Resources (Water, Air, and Land) in the San Francisco Bay Area.

This report, prepared for the Bay Vision 2020 Commission, includes a comprehensive look at future water supply and demand in the 9 Bay Area counties. In addition, the paper documents the current system of governance for air, water supply and water quality, and land use.

Managing PCBs in the Hudson/Raritan Estuary and the New York Bight System.

Scott McCreary with Marc David Block and Marlene Mallner, October 28, 1988.

This paper consists of the 78-page negotiated single text of the NYAS New York Bight Initiative. It represents the results of a joint fact-finding process, and summarizes the sources and effects of contaminants on the marine environment of the New York Harbor region. Also included are 26 specific policy recommendations.