OTPIC Officially Retired

As of December 2, 2005, the Online Training Program on Intractable Conflict (OTPIC) has been officially retired, and is no longer open to new registrations.

The successor to OTPIC is a course called Dealing Constructively with Intractable Conflicts (DCIC). The new curriculum is built around one of our major projects, Beyond Intractability, and offers a much more extensive and informative set of learning materials than that available through OTPIC.

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International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict

Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA


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Submission is probably the most common response to threats and force. Effectively resisting threats often requires the parties to devote a great deal of their resources to what is likely to be a painful confrontation. Often it is much easier to simply submit to the demands of the threatening party and go back to pursuing normal activities. This is especially attractive when the threatening party is not asking a great deal. Often people devote an enormous amount of effort to fighting over things that are not really very important.

It is only in cases where the threatening party wants people to do something that they find absolutely unacceptable that resistance is worth the effort. Even in these cases, a decision to resist depends upon the chances of succeeding. If a party doesn't have enough power to resist, then the easiest thing to do is give up and to try to build up one's power so one can stage a successful resistance later.

Another alternative is to mount a low-cost, low risk approach.  Here exchange and persuasion can be used instead of force to try to convince the threatening party to withdraw the threat.  In any case, however, parties need to take care to pick their fights carefully and only engage in conflicts that are likely to significantly advance their interests. 

Submission can be a problem, however, when people or groups routinely submit to the demands of others without ever considering the value of standing up for themselves.   While this may be appropriate in most cases, it is not in all--some fights are worth fighting.  When one's fundamental interests, values, or needs are at stake, people should carefully consider what options they have for defending those, and think carefully before submitting to the demands of others.

Links to Related Sections

Failure to Anticipate Opponent Reactions and the Backlash Effect

Misunderstanding the Relationship Between Threat and Force



Tyranny of the Powerful/Disempowerment

Face-saving surrender

Copyright 1998 Conflict Research Consortium  -- Contact: crc@colorado.edu