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CONFLICT MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES AND EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE IN SELECTED SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN ONDO STATE

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the study

Organization all over the world exists to achieve a specific goal and objective and for these goals and objectives to be achieved the human resources at the disposal of the organization must be properly harnessed to effectively and efficiently utilize other organizations resources in driving the organization forward (George & Jones, 2013). The human resources (employees) of the organization are the foundation on which every activity of the organization rests. It is the employees that put into use all the resources and all factors of production into the use for the achievement of the organization goals and objective (Ariyon & Ikemefuna 2011, Egbuta 2016) However, due the fact that no two humans are the same as they vary in lifestyle, personality, beliefs, value systems and religion, the congregation of employees in an organization may see conflict arise regularly (Larey, 2014). This has led to the issue of conflict management become a hotly discussed topic among human resource managers all around the globe. Furthermore, Nigeria is particularly volatile to conflict at workplaces in various organizations due the diverse nature of its population and its acceptance of multiculturalism (Owolabi, 2015). Therefore, a clash of cultural values, beliefs and lifestyle and this has led to conflict among employees which can escalate if not properly managed. Therefore, there is a need for conflict management in all industries, sectors and works of life. The need for conflict management is even more pressing in the academic sector where the “leaders of tomorrow” are inculcated with knowledge as it is important that they learn in a safe and serene environment free from distraction or disturbance (Ojiafor, 2013). Therefore, it is vital that conflicts are reduced to the barest minimum in secondary schools. An organization is a structured social system consisting of groups and individuals working together to meet pre-agreed on objectives (Rafaeli, 2015). Organizations are made up of different people with different family background, attitude, beliefs, abilities and personality, which is a set recipe for conflicts arising in any organization. This implies there is no organization that can effectively carry out its day to day activities without encountering some form of conflict. Thus, conflict is the most common, general and widespread phenomenon that goes alongside group activity and interaction. According to Uya (2014), conflict cannot be completely dissociated from human beings and their endeavors, be it group or organization. This means that conflict is a “necessary evil” that one cannot do without. Conflict refers to a situation in which there are incompatible goals, cognition or emotion within or between individuals or groups that led to opposition (Kelly, 2010). According to Wall & Callister, (2015) conflict refers to the process in which one party perceives that its interests are being opposed or negatively influenced by another party. Conflict in the workplace is an expression of hostility, antagonism and misunderstanding between the staff members (Iravo, 2011). In institutions, conflict occurs between various individuals because of their frequent interaction with each other. This means conflict in the work place can occur between employees or between the management and an employee or the employees. For instance, when employees go on strike it represents an escalated conflict between the management of the institution and the employees. Conflicts that occur in work places must be properly handled and resolved. The failure to do this can result in the conflict being blown out of proportion which can lead to discord among employees (Okafor, 2015). In Nigeria, conflict presently constitutes a menacing factor in academic life. Schools frequently appear to be at the center of tension and on occasions, they are probably a manifestation of problems in the general policy. This is witnessed by the frequent ASUU strikes (Academic Staff Union of Universities) that occur in tertiary institutions in the country. According to Egberigbe (2009) a major cause of this repeated conflict is the failure of the Nigerian Government to meet the demands of Nigerian Lecturers and provide them with the necessary motivation to be able to carry out their duties effectively. The first ever ASUU strike was in 1988 after the body ASUU was newly formed in 1978 (Lateef, 2014). The strike was done in a bid to obtain fair wages and university autonomy (Nasir, 2013). The strike was met with a tough response from the General Babangida’s Military regime as the body was suspended and stripped of its properties (Babasola, 2002). The body was later restored in 1990 after negotiations with the military government (Babasola, 2002). However, since then the ASUU body has gone on no less than eighteen strikes due to various demands ranging from improvement in salary, better working conditions and improvement of University Facilities (Fashola, 2015). This has adversely affected the student’s academic performance and the level of quality education in Nigeria, as no Nigerian University is currently ranked among the top one thousand universities in the world (Johnson, 2013). Furthermore, conflicts in the Nigerian Educational institutions do not just occur in universities they also occur in other tertiary institutions like polytechnics and colleges of education. For instance, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, in January 2017 embarked on a nationwide seven-day strike over shortfall in payment of salaries and allowances among other demands. They have also threatened recently to embark on another nationwide strike until their salary demands are met (Hassan, 2015). Furthermore, the Colleges of Education in Nigeria also regularly go on strike in protest of poor infrastructure and poor salaries of lecturers and facilitators in the schools as occasioned by their strike in 2014 (chimara, 2016). Furthermore, conflicts also take place in secondary schools between teachers and the government in form of NUT (Nigerian Union of Teachers) strikes (Akinsanya, 2016). Since the forming of the Union in 1931 under the leadership of the late Oludotun Ransome Kuti, they have been at the forefront of advocating for teacher’s rights. This many times has led to clashes with the government with it culminating in strikes. These strikes have affected the growth of the educational industry and students’ academic performance. According to West African Examination Council (2016) Nigeria’s success rate in their SSCE exams has been dropping steadily over the past four years with 2017s success rates less than 30% (Johnson, 2017). Most of the times these strikes are caused by the variation in the demand of teachers and lecturers in contrast to what the government is willing to meet. Furthermore, conflict in secondary schools doesn’t stop there as it occurs between teachers and the principals, between teachers themselves or between teachers and the students.

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