MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES OF CONFLICT BETWEEN ACADEMIC AND NON-ACADEMIC STAFF OF FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES IN SOUTH EAST, NIGERIA
This study investigated management strategies of conflict between academic and non-academic staff of federal universities in South East, Nigeria. The study was guided by nine research questions and nine null hypotheses. The design of the study was descriptive survey. The population of the study was 16,387 respondents.
A multi-stage sampling technique was used to select a sample of 1,025 subjects, comprising 527academic and 488 non-academic staff from the universities. Purposive sampling technique was also used to select another 10 academic and non-academic staff for the focus group discussion (FGD). The instrument for data collection was a questionnaire titled: Management Strategies of Conflict Questionnaire (MSCQ) and focus group discussion guide which was put in prose form. The research questions were answered using mean and standard deviation while t-test was used to test the null hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance.
Findings of the study were that interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts,
interdependence conflicts, breakdown in communication, subordinate conflicts and breakdown of collective bargaining, among others are the nature of conflicts experienced in the federal universities. It was also found that breach of communication, poor human relationship, unequal attention to staff welfare, differences in staff perception, inadequate representation of staff in decision making, competition for scarce resources and their allocations, were among the sources of conflicts.
The study revealed that conflict increases disunity, communication gap, bitterness, helps staff to voice out their dis-satisfactions, reduces motivation, decreases productivity. The responses of academic and nonacademic staff did not differ significantly (p<0.05) with regard to the strategies suitable for managing conflicts in federal universities. Among the recommendations were that university management should adopt the identified management strategies of conflict which, among others, include mediation, negotiation, dialogue, and effective communication that will tackle conflict between academic and non-academic staff in universities so as to enable them work together in peace and harmony for the effective and efficient achievement of the university goals.
University management should organize conferences, workshops and seminars to create awareness on the adverse effects of conflicts in the universities and on their staff and students. This will encourage peaceful coexistence and team spirit for smooth running of the universities. Also university management should constitute conflict management committee who would be trained and guided on management strategies of conflict. This will help prevent and check any form of biased tendencies and will create synergy in order to achieve educational goals and objectives.
Background of the Study
Conflicts are inevitable in any organization. This is more so in an
organization as a university with a structure that allows two or more units or
groups to share functional boundaries in achieving its set objectives. In
universities, people with differing nature -students, lecturers and administrative staff – have to work harmoniously together. The organizational structure is such that staff and staff, students and students, staff and students share functional boundaries to exchange knowledge.
The goal of university education is pursued through its main functions and
activities of teaching, research, dissemination of existing and new information, service to the community, and being a storehouse of knowledge (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004). In carrying out these functions, there are always conflicts within and among the categories of people within the university community, namely students, academics, non-academics and their unions.
These categories of people have different purposes and expectations from the university. In pursuance of their individual and group purposes and expectations they sometimes disagree with one another due to their differing ideals which result to conflict. Several definitions of conflict have been given by different scholars. According to Enyi (2001), conflict can be regarded as a situation where disputants are hostile to each other in their efforts to achieve goals which are at variance with each other. Best (2006) defined conflict as pursuit of incompatible interests and goals by different entities.
It is the struggle over values or claims to status, power, and scarce resources in which the aims of the groups of individuals involved are not to obtain the desired values but to neutralize, injure or eliminate rivals (Louis and Coser, 1996). Conflict is a disagreement between two or more parties who perceive that they have incompatible concerns. This incompatibility can be about needs, interests, values or aims (Bloisi, 2007). Nye (2001) conceived conflict as ‘mutual hostility’ at interpersonal, inter-human, inter-group, inter-ethnic, intercultural and inter-national level. From the above definitions, conflict is a fact in human existence and a natural part of our daily lives.
Conflict means to come into collision, clash or being in opposition or at
variance with other person or group of persons. It equally mean strife, controversy, discord of action, disagreement in opinions and antagonism of interest or principle (Harks, 2001). Conflict could also be seen as a disagreement over social issues, beliefs and ideologies (Horowitz and Borden, 1995). Adejuwon and Okewale (2009) defined conflict as the result of interaction among people, an unavoidable concomitant of choices and decisions and an expression of the basic fact of human interdependence. Ejiogu (1998) postulated that conflict is a condition of disharmony or hostility within an interaction process which is usually the direct result of clash of interests by the parties involved.