Emory Law Journal


Susan D. Franck


Arbitrators are to global dispute resolution what judges are to domestic dispute resolution. Despite this, arbitral decisionmaking is a black box. This Article is the first to use original experimental research to explore how international arbitrators decide cases. We find that arbitrators often make intuitive and impressionistic decisions rather than fully deliberative ones. We also find evidence that casts doubt on the conventional wisdom that arbitrators render ¿split the baby¿ decisions. Although direct comparisons are difficult, we find that arbitrators generally perform at least as well as, but never demonstrably worse than, national judges. There may be reasons to prefer judges to international arbitrators, but the quality of judgment and decisionmaking, is not one of them. Thus, normative debates about global dispute resolution should focus not on decisionmaker identity or title but rather on structural safeguards and legal protections to enhance quality rule of law based decisionmaking.