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CONFLICT MANAGEMENT IN PUBLIC SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS IN NIGERIA

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CONFLICT MANAGEMENT IN PUBLIC SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS IN NIGERIA

 

ABSTRACT

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.

 

CHAPTER ONE

1.1 OVERVIEW

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;

For example,

  • 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:-

  1. The sources/causes of conflicts in manufacturing firms.
  2. The forms/types of industrial conflicts
  3. The strategies or methods mostly employed by Nigerian organizations in conflict management.
  4. The problem encountered by Nigerian organizations in managing conflicts.
  5. 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:—

  1. What factors affect the effective management of conflicts in Nigerian public service organizations?
  2. 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?
  3. To what extent does problems arising from ineffective conflict management result in low productivity of Nigerian public service organizations?
  4. 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

Conflict

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.

Conflict Management

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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