Will Apology Enhance Construction Dispute Settlement?

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number04519037
Journal / PublicationJournal of Legal Affairs and Dispute Resolution in Engineering and Construction
Issue number1
Online published13 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


The first-ever apology ordinance (AO) was enacted in Hong Kong in 2017. The objective of the AO is to promote and encourage the making of apologies with a view of preventing escalation of disputes and facilitating their amicable resolution. It has been suggested that apology has an incentivizing settlement effect in construction dispute mediation. This study further explores in what ways apology enhances settlement. The literature suggests that apology is a possible way to lower psychological barriers against settlement. To examine this proposition, generic types of apology were first summarized from previous studies. These are ice breaking, conciliatory, reality checking, and congruence driving. The psychology barriers against settlement were also identified. Applying a model of response restriction, offering an apology would likely meet with positive response from the negotiating counterpart. Moreover, congruence-driving apology is considered most effective in reciprocating positive responses. This study contributes to construction dispute research in examining the use of apology as a strategy to enhance dispute settlement.

Research Area(s)

  • Apology, Dispute negotiation, Psychological barriers, Response restriction