THE MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES OF CONFLICT BETWEEN ACADEMIC AND NON-ACADEMIC STAFF
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 dissatisfactions,
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. Whenever an action by one
party is perceived as preventing or interfering with the goals, needs or actions of
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