Five Questions to … Gernot Barth / Germany

Providing information about mediation and establishing a new magazine is a challenging task. Gernot Bath, co-editor of the German-speaking “Die Wirtschaftsmediation – Fachmagazin für Unternehmen und öffentliche Verwaltung” (Business Mediation – Magazine for Business and Public Administration) explains the idea behind this journal.

Interview by André Niedostadek

Gernot, there is already a lot of literature on mediation. Another magazine called “Die Wirtschaftsmediation” (Business Mediation) is now available in Germany. Could you briefly outline what this publication is about?

So far mediation in Germany is mostly regarded from the mediator’s point of view. Most of the magazines and journals on the market focus on mediators as their target group, so the content discussed is mostly concerned with special techniques that could be useful in a certain mediation setting and technical discussions that are usually not relevant for the actual consumer of the service mediation. So far there has been no other publication that is aiming at possible consumers of mediation. Our magazine “Die Wirtschaftsmediation” is published quarterly and has the aim to fill this blank spot. Enriched with articles about successful business mediation cases the magazine is focusing on conflict management and mediation in permanent categories such as Law, Family, Sports, International and Scientific Column. Each volume focuses on a certain topic such as “Negotiation”, “Real Estate Management” or “Conflicts in Enterprises” and puts a special emphasis on conflicts and conflict behavior.

Who are the brains behind “Die Wirtschaftsmediation”?

The idea to publish a magazine on business mediation was born on a train ride from Warsaw to Leipzig by Bernhard Böhm and myself. We used to work as entrepreneurs and mediators. It was also helpful to work as directors of the Steinbeis Advisory Centre of Business Mediation, where we have been teaching and carrying out mediation for more than 10 years and built up a good reputation in Germany. Through European projects such as “Online Mediation in Cross-Border Disputes” which was co-financed by the European Union we gathered lots of experience also in international disputes and are happy to become known in the mediation sector internationally.

A lot of information can easily be sought on the internet nowadays and e-magazines become more and more popular. Why did you decide to establish a classical print magazine?

We believe that readers should always find some time to sit down in a comfortable armchair to read and at the same time have the experience of actually smelling the odor of a freshly printed magazine. We also wanted to deliver a high class reading experience by publishing our publication as a high gloss magazine, although this seems to be a little bit romantic in these times of digitalization. Despite of the rise of digital publication the sales of digital publications only contribute 3% of the total revenue in the publishing industry. However we also offer our magazine as an e-paper so technophiles may also get the biggest amount of pleasure out of reading “Die Wirtschafsmediation”.

What makes “Die Wirtschaftsmediation” unique in respect to other magazines on this topic?

Firstly, our magazine clearly focuses on possible consumers of mediation. Secondly, many mediation magazines and journals in Germany deliver a relatively stiff picture what may count as “mediation” and what doesn’t apply for the term mediation. Our aim is to broaden this perspective in Germany since other countries, especially the Anglo-Saxon countries, don’t fence the service of mediation as much and therefore reached a much higher public acceptance and recognition.

What topics are you going to concentrate on in the near future?

As a magazine, of course we want to enlarge our customer base and will be present at several conferences such as “Zukunft Personal 2014”, the German major trade fair on Human Resources topics. The main focuses of our magazine in 2014 will be the following:

  • Negotiation (01/2014)
  • Corporate Culture (02/2014)
  • Large-Scale Projects (03/2014)
  • Intercultural Conflicts (04/2014)

Gernot, thanks for this interview!

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PD Dr. habil. Gernot Barth is co-editor of the “Die Wirtschaftsmediation” and works as a mediator, supervisor and negotiation trainer. In addition to the conflict management and consultancy in business he is currently active in consulting and training in the context of the energy turnaround. He is director of the Steinbeis Consulting Center of Business Mediation, director of the Academy of Social Affairs and Law at Steinbeis School Berlin and also Vice -President and Managing Director of the German Forum for Mediation (Deutsches Forum für Mediation, DFfM).

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2 thoughts on “Five Questions to … Gernot Barth / Germany

  1. A refreshing interview from the usually, very conservative German mediation community. I really hope Gernot’s thoughts will be a role model for future German mediators in order to kick off a change process! It would help all neighboring countries since Germany has crtitical economic power to create a great push in terms of conflict culture and conflict management.
    Good luck with your magazine “Die Wirtschaftsmediation”. I just ordered the current edition!

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