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CONFLICT MANAGEMENT IN PUBLIC SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS IN NIGERIA
Conflict management in Nigerian Public Service Organizations has been fully investigated. Data for the research was collected through the use of questionnaires and personal interviews of the sampled population. The hypothesis stated were tested using both the chi-square (X2) and test of proportion (Z-test) statistical tools.
The findings of the research shows that most Nigerian public service organizations do have well defined conflict management procedures. There exists a positive and significant relationship between the effective implementation of conflict management techniques and improved organizational harmony / productivity as well as the fact that there exists a positive and significant relationship between labour participation in decision-making and improved labour management relations.
The study problems identified includes; lack of basic skills and abilities to mange conflicts, dictatorship, high-handedness and oftentimes the unwillingness of management to engage labour in meaningful dialogues and negotiations amongst others.
The study recommends management’s integration of its workforce in its decision-making processing in order to promote understanding and reduce conflict situations amongst others.
Industrial conflict occurs within the general context of industrial relations in work organizations basically as a result of a disagreement within or between workers or labour organizations and management arising from differences in interests and values. The above view is corroborated by Fashoyin, T. (1989) when he observes that “since the civil war, labour- management conflicts have assumed unprecedented proportions. These conflicts arise from inherent opposing interest of employers and employees in work relations. Infact, Ahiauzu , A. (1999) observes quite frankly that conflict in industry is unlikely to be totally unavoidable due to the followings; “the variegated nature of human make up, factors residing within industrial mode of work organizations and the way the entire industrial society is organized”.
The study of industrial relations can be traced to the days of the classical economists of the 19th century such as Adam Smith, Reverend Malthus and David Ricardo who were in the limited extent that labour was seen as a factor of production. In effect, these economists saw insufficient difference between labour and other factors to explain the complex nature of labour input into production. Yet labour itself, as a factor of production “is more greatly influenced by the social and economic work environment, together with other environmental factors which have far-reaching effects on labour than by other factors of production” Fashoyin, T. (1989:4).
However, at the end of the 19th century, the conservative view of the classical economists gave way to those of the social reformers, such as Sidney and Beatrice Webb and Karl Marx, (1920). These scholars agreed that the view of classical economists did not recognize the agonizing and traumatic experience of the laboring class which they argued could be ameliorated by the institution of trade unionism. Indeed, this marked the birth of trade unionism defined by the Webbs as “a continuous association of wage earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their working lives” Sidney and Beatrice Webb (1920).
Today, the activities of trade unions or industrial unions have become heightened especially in their quest to protect the employment conditions of their members. These trade union activities are embodies in the general framework of industrial relations which according to Yesufu, T.M. (1989:5) is concerned with labour problems in all their ramifications;
- Employment problems and employment security
- Conditions of work hours of work, shifts, holidays etc.
- Remuneration; level, frequency, methods of wage payments and employer grievances and disputes
- Levels of production and efficiency;
- Safety health and welfare at work;
- Social security; sickness and old age benefits, maternity leave, employment injury Compensation;
- Employee development; training, upgrading and promotions”.
Usually, when these expectations by labour are not met by management, conflict arises. Conflict management thus become very challenging and requires the combination of concerted skills and manipulation to keep organizational peace together. This perennial problem has thus necessitated this study on conflict management in Nigerian public service organizations. Indeed, Nigerian public service organizations can achieve success in the area of effective conflict management if they are able to urgently promote dialogue between them and their respective work forces and smoothen all areas of conflict.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Conflict management in Nigerian public service organizations has become critical issue to contain with especially given the frequency at which conflicts occur today in Nigerian organizations. Conflicts arise between and among parties basically as a result of threats to goals, policies and value of each contending party. The crux of the matter therefore lies in properly identifying the necessary skills to reduce and manage such conflict situations.
Regrettably though, most Nigerian public service organizations have failed in their bid to effectively manage conflicts because of the lack of basic skills and abilities. Management in most instances have been dictatorial, high-handed and of and oftentimes not ready to engage labour in any meaningful dialogue and negotiation. The resultant effect of this posture has been largely responsible for the frequent loss of man-hours through work stoppages/picketing, willful and wantom destruction of company property, pilfering and other forms of sabotage. In sum, if conflict management in Nigerian organizations is to be successful to listen to , efforts must be made to listen to and engage conflicting parties in meaningful negotiation and dialogue. It is therefore the objective of the research to identify factors that have served as constraints to effective conflict management in Nigerian public service organizations and measures necessary to ensure a better management labour relationship.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study is aimed at examining the concept of conflict management in Nigerian public service organizations. The study will specifically focus on the strategies and methodologies adopted by Nigerian public service organizations in managing conflicts.
Specifically, the study will and discuss:-
- The sources/causes of conflicts in manufacturing firms.
- The forms/types of industrial conflicts
- The strategies or methods mostly employed by Nigerian organizations in conflict management.
- The problem encountered by Nigerian organizations in managing conflicts.
- The methods and techniques that are most likely to minimize the incidence of conflict situations in Nigerian organizations.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions are necessary for this research:—
- What factors affect the effective management of conflicts in Nigerian public service organizations?
- How does the top management of Nigerian public service organizations deal with conflict situations in order to facilitate the smooth running of their respective organizations?
- To what extent does problems arising from ineffective conflict management result in low productivity of Nigerian public service organizations?
- Does effective participation of labour in decision-making improve labour—management relations in Nigerian public service organizations?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
The following research hypothesis are necessary for this research:-
Ho1: Most Nigerian public service organizations do not have well defined conflict management procedures
Ho2: There is no positive and significant relationship between the effective implementation of conflict management techniques and improved organizational harmony/productivity.
Ho3: There is no positive and significant relationship between labour participation in decision—making and improve labour-management relations.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS STUDY
This study on conflict management in Nigerian public service organizations is indeed imperative as a bold attempt at finding lasting solution to (lie perennial problems of labour – management crisis occasioned by differences in interests, values and goals. The expectation is that through this study, organizational managers will be presented with useful strategies that if implemented will reduce the incidence of conflicts in their organizations.
Managers will also be exposed to practical problems associated with conflict management and how to deal with them. The findings of this research will not only be of benefit to organizational managers, but also to labour and the public at large. Specifically, managers will gain hindsight into how best to handle employee demands, promote dialogue and negotiation between it and labour. Labour on the other hand will gain knowledge on practical strategies that will facilitate meaningful dialogue and co-operation between it and management thus promoting industrial harmony.
Finally, the public is expected to benefit from this research through gainful insight to what characterizes the relationship between management and labour as well as its expected role in periods of deadlocks.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This research work, is a case study of randomly selected manufacturing firms in Port Nigeria. Four (4) firms are involved in the study. They are two brewing firms – Nigerian breweries (Plc) and Consolidated breweries limted and two soft drinks manufacturing firms Nigeria Bottling Co. Plc and 7up (Nig). Plc..
The study will be limited to randomly selected top, middle and lower level personnel in the different departments/workgroups of the organizations being studied. The objectives is to obtain a broad view of the workforce and he able to evaluate the extent to which conflict management has been tackled in their respective organizations.
1.8 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
In a research of this magnitude a lot of factors are expected to constitute hindrances, Time, financial constraints and the attitude of respondents are likely to constitute major set backs. Being, an area where considerable research work has done, efforts will he made to do a thorough review of the related literature.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
It is a situation in which there is disagreement within or between workers or labour organizations and management based on differences in interests and values.
It is a situation characterized the use of skills and special abilities to restore normalcy in a troubled situation or circumstance.
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