Journal of the International Ombudsman Association (JIOA)

JIOA 2020 Articles

Sexual Harassment, Consensual Relationships, and the Ombuds Profession
Caroline Adams & David Rasch
22 December 2020

Title Page for "Sexual Harassment, Consensual Relationships, and the Ombuds Role"Abstract:
With the first organizational ombuds offices emerging in America in the 1960s, the profession is still relatively young. As it enters a more mature phase of its development, it becomes increasingly important to identify the ethical challenges inherent to the work, and to create and refine guidelines for practitioners. As advocates for fair processes and adherence to policy, organizational ombuds work on the cutting edge of a dynamic, new normal for equitable and respectful relationships in our institutions. Ombuds have traditionally assisted visitors concerned about sexual harassment and problematic consensual relationships within their organizations, but as neutral, impartial, and independent as they strive to be, ombuds are human, and not immune to gender, sexual, and power

dynamics. In this article, the authors examine the risks of sexual harassment and problematic consensual relationships for ombuds, visitors, and the profession. Several strategies for addressing these concerns are recommended including: expanding IOA ethical guidelines, updating policies and procedures for ethical and conflict of interest issues, and developing a sexual harassment policy for the profession.

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A Book Ombuds Can Use: Review of How to Be an Inclusive Leader
Mary Bliss Conger
21 December 2020

Title page for JIOA Article "A Book Ombuds Can Use: Review of How to Be an Inclusive Leader"Abstract: 
This review of How to Be an Inclusive Leader: Your Role in Creating Cultures of Belonging Where Everyone Can Thrive by Jennifer Brown (2019, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.) covers the structure and nature of the book’s content, and comments on its usefulness for organizational ombuds. It recommends that ombuds add this book to their lending library as well as read it for their own development.

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Book Review for "Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest" by Peter Block
Sandra L. Moore
28 August 2020

Cover Page for Book Review for "Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest" by Peter BlockAbstract:
This book review discusses Block’s radical Stewardship philosophy which upends traditional leadership and organizational hierarchy paradigms to promote employee equality and engagement. Ombuds can benefit from insight into the complexity and challenges needed to reform organizational dynamics and implement widespread change.

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Book Review: Perseverance by Margaret J Wheatley
Jacqueline Villafañe
28 August 2020

Cover Page for Book Review: Perseverance by Margaret J WheatleyAbstract:
Perseverance is an introspective guide that offers the reader direction on how to overcome obstacles and persevere through them. The individual essays, poems and quotes include provocative questions and viewpoints which can challenge current mindsets through reflection. An Organizational Ombudsman can use the series of excerpts for self-care, or as a coaching conversation starter with all visitors that might be anchored in their perspective.

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Taking Arms Against a Sea of Troubles: The Experience and Legacy of Michigan State University’s First Ombuds
Shannon Burton
28 August 2020

Cover Page for Taking Arms Against a Sea of Troubles: The Experience and Legacy of Michigan State University's First OmbudsAbstract:
The title of this article comes from the very first report of Michigan State University’s Office of the University Ombudsperson where the ombuds compares the role of the ombuds as one that helps students to take “arms against a sea of trouble” (Hamlet) referring to the faculty and administration as the sea. While a unique observation, it truly does not describe the scope and depth of the work of this role during those early years. This research began as an effort to revisit and reflect on the legacy of fifty years of ombuds practice that started at Michigan State University in 1967. In order to effectively understand the role, scope, and purpose of the office, as well as the founding ombuds, Dr. James Rust, the researcher examined the annual reports provided by Dr. Rust and his colleagues that covered the years of 1967 through the end of his tenure in August 1974. To provide context for these reports, additional reports and papers produced during that time were consulted.

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Overcoming Groundhog Day: Changing Organizational Culture while Institutionalizing the Ombudsman Role
Susan Raines & Tavia Harrison
19 June 2020

Coaching individual visitors is an indispensable and foundational task of the organizational Ombudsman role. Yet many of the conflicts brought by visitors could be avoided through intentional efforts to change dysfunctional workplace cultures and behaviors at a deeper level. Low morale, disengagement, high turnover, workplace bullying, discrimination, sexual harassment, sabotage, and embezzlement are all symptoms of dysfunctional organizational cultures (Raines 2019). It is imperative that Ombudsman diagnose the health of their organization's culture and design appropriate interventions to prevent unproductive conflict. As a side benefit, many of the tasks related to culture change initiatives raise the profile and secure the institutionalization of the Ombudsman office, highlighting the unique set of processes, skills, and attributes unduplicated by other units in the organization. Without attention to the root causes of organizational conflict, many Ombudsmen experience the 'Groundhog Day Phenomenon,' meaning they encounter a never-ending repetition of similar problems and parties day after day.

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Book Review: Virtue at Work: Ethics for Individuals, Managers, and Organizations
Elizabet Wendt
19 May 2020

In Virtue at Work: Ethics for Individuals, Managers, and Organizations, Geoff Moore applies the work of moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre to the puzzle of the modern organization and argues in favor of bringing virtue ethics into the workplace. Virtue ethics is a branch of ethics that centers on people, the stories they tell about their lives, and how these stories develop or hinder their self-realization. This article reviews Virtue at Work, outlining the content of the book and highlighting its potential uses for ombudsmen.

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A Brief History of the Student Ombudsman: The Early Evolution of the Role in US Higher Education
Ryan Smith
13 March 2020

College and university ombuds were created throughout the United States in the late 1960’s in response to campus tensions created by the Vietnam War and a growing university bureaucracy. The role of these offices was to guard against violations of student rights and to provide pathways for redress of student grievances and based upon the Danish model of ombudsing. The ombuds role evolved with changes on college campuses and in society broadly. Within a short time, these offices expanded their scope to serve faculty, staff, and other constituencies, eventually becoming a part of the organizational ombuds model. This paper examines early ombuds practice, specifically the shift away from a model that served only students to one that served the entire campus community.

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A Fair Alternative to Unfair Arbitration: Proposing an Ombudsman Scheme for Consumer Dispute Resolution in the USA
Mala Sharma
13 March 2020

Mandatory arbitration is facing a backlash in the United States of America. Recently proposed legislations are geared to severely restrict the scope of mandatory arbitration in consumer disputes. This Article proposes the creation of a new hybrid ombudsman scheme on the lines of the Financial Ombudsman Service found in the UK for resolving consumer disputes in the US. The multi-tier alternative dispute resolution system integrating mediation, recommended settlements and adjudications adopted by the FOS internally and the unique position it enjoys in relation to various actors such as the regulators, courts, industry and consumers within the dispute resolution framework enables it to not only act as a grievance addressal point but also as an agent of change. It is about time unfair mandatory arbitration is replaced with fair alternatives such as a hybrid ombudsman scheme.

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An Initial Enquiry Towards a Model of Supervision and Support for Organisational Ombudsmen
Fred Wright and David Miller
30 January 2020

This paper explores the proposition that a formal model of supervision and support for Organisational Ombudsmen (OOs) should be implemented. It examines data from a small research project that asked experienced Ombudsman (and those recently retired) about how Ombudsman practitioners met their needs for support and guidance in the early days of the profession. It reviews supervision models in established professions, such as psychology and social work, to identify the key characteristics of a model for Organisational Ombudsmen, and proposes that a mandated supervision requirement is an important and defining characteristic of mature professions, providing not only psychological support but guidance towards ethical practice. It is argued that supervision benefits not only OO practitioners and the organisations in which they work but that it also contributes to the standing of the profession by promoting consistency and supporting reflective practice.  

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About the JIOA

The Journal of the International Ombudsman Association (JIOA) is a peer-reviewed online journal for scholarly articles and information relevant to the ombudsman profession. As members of a relatively new profession, we continually strive to understand, define and clarify the role and function of the professional organizational ombudsman.

The JIOA will help foster recognition that what we do for our agencies, corporations, colleges, and universities is worthy of study. While we must vigorously protect the confidentiality of our interactions, we can still study and be studied to understand what we do and how we do it; what works well and what doesn't work; what our options are; how social, technical and legal changes may impact us; what the profile and career development of ombudsman professionals might be, and other matters of interest.

The JIOA can facilitate a greater interest in ombudsing, enhance our professional standing, and serve to give us a better understanding of our dynamic roles and the impact on our institutions and agencies. The Journal also will allow IOA members, other ombudsmen, and other professionals to reach out to their colleagues with their ideas, research findings, theories, and recommendations for best practices and to engage in ongoing discussions of critical issues.

Learn more about the JIOA and the manuscript submission process.

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If you have any questions about the JIOA please contact the co-editors via email at [email protected].

  • Shannon Lynn Burton, Michigan State University
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