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Abstract

This study was on impact of conflict management styles on employee performance in selected tertiary institutions in Kwara State. Three objectives were raised which included: Assess the effect of accommodation strategy on employees’ commitment in tertiary institutions in Kwara State, Nigeria, investigate the effect of collaboration strategy on employees’ productivity in tertiary institutions in Kwara State, Nigeria and determine the effect of compromise strategy on job satisfaction in tertiary institutions in Kwara State, Nigeria. The total population for the study is 75 selected staff of the Federal Polytechnic Offa, Kwara State Polytechnic Ilorin and Lens Polytechnic, Offa. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies. At the end, the study recommends that the management of the institutions should ensure that employees are promoted based on merit and not on sentiments because it will not only encourage the hard working ones but it will also reduce the waves of industrial disputes in the institutions. The management of the institutions and government should also ensure sanctity of all agreements signed with the unions at all times to avoid frictions and industrial crises because it has effect on the image of the institutions and some compelling costs especially on the students and entire community as a whole

 

 

Chapter one

Introduction

1.1Background of the study

Organization is recognizable social entity whose members jointly pursue various objectives simultaneously with their private objectives and ambitions. Organization therefore has employees, materials and objectives that are accomplished through cooperation and coordinated efforts However, the establishment and continuous existence of every organization through the habitual realization of predetermined set goals and objectives that also needs the continuous and effective functioning of both material and human elements being indispensable. The human components needed to promote the attainment of these objectives are often involve in disagreements and variances over; interest, opinions, management style, among others. This reactionary impact is known as conflict because of the perceived incompatibilities typically arising from some type of interference or resistance. Azamoza (2004) noted that conflict includes the complete variety of behaviours and attitudes that oppose owners / managers on the one side and working individuals on the other. It is a state of disagreement on substantive or emotional problems that may arise due to anger, mistrust or personality clashes.

The performance of every organization is a reflection and function of collective efforts of stakeholders in business who contribute in one way or the other. An Organization’s success and competitiveness depend upon its ability to embrace diversity in the workforce. Each department brings together diverse groups of people who come from different backgrounds and have differing ideas, personalities, perceptions, attitudes, beliefs, values, goals and interests. Differences in goals and interests may sometimes overlap with those of other groups which may result in conflict. The growing organizational interactions among employees from different departments with different professional specializations lead to more complex and dynamic relationships within organizations (Zhu, 2013)

Global economic crises erupted the world economy in the mid-2008 has challenged managers, strategist and scholars to question how to sustain long term competitive business strategy. The conflict in the international organisations also challenges competitive strategies, disseminating the failure in group interaction, synergy, and productivity. Therefore, solving conflict at international business organisation and global, leadership underpins the success of long term stability and success.

Educational institutions in Nigeria are usually bedevilled with so many challenges ranging from scarcity of resources to build infrastructures, payment of salaries and emoluments to making funds available for research development (Alajekwu&Alajekwu, 2017). This is quite pervasive in public owned institutions of higher learning that are majorly dependent on tertiary education trust fund (TETFUND) gotten from budgetary allocation to the educational sector. However, staff of these institutions spent most of their productive energies and times especially those who are saddled with the responsibility of managing staff welfare by resolving issues that could be regarded as needless if the right things are being done on time to nip conflict in the bud.

The organisation in its entirety cannot exist without human and physical resources as lubricant of smooth running of its functions. Thus, achieving the organisational objective through the goal congruence is always a challenge as a result of conflict of interest among the employees’ and also 2 within the management. Conflicts could either be “functional” which support an organisation’s goals, or “dysfunctional” which prevents an organisation from achieving its goals. Nevertheless, whichever form conflict manifests, it may have destructive consequences if not properly handled. But if managed properly, conflict can add value to employee performance and increase organisational productivity. Conflict cannot be completely eradicated from human beings and their endeavours, be it group or organisation. This means that as long as there is interplay between individuals in an organisation, conflict is a “necessary evil” that one cannot do without. Muhammad, Imran and Faisal (2011) opine that for an organisation to grow, change and survive, it must resolve conflicts among stakeholders. The American Management Association reported that managers spend at least 24% (percent) of their time in a working day resolving conflicts (Guttman,2009). This shows the importance of conflict resolution in an organisation. Conflict in an organisation is a state of friction caused by the actual or perceived opposition of needs, values and interests between people working together (Oseremen&Osemeke, 2015). This is why it isso important to understand different types of conflicts in an organization and to differentiate between the ones that have positive consequences from those of negative consequences

Through effective conflict management, conducive working atmosphere is created for promoting opportunities, encouraging innovation and movement directed towards non-violent reconciliation of basic clashing interests. According to Oseremen and Osemeke (2015), effective conflict management leads to organisational performance, enhances productivity and improves the growth and sustainability of the organisation. Researchers and experts such as Alajekwu&Alajekwu, (2017) identified various methods and techniques in which conflict can be properly managed in an organization, prominent among these include: avoidance, accommodation, competition, compromise and collaboration strategy. The avoidance strategy is called conflict avoidance. Any organisation using this method is sitting on a keg of gun-powder. The accommodation strategy believes that no amount of sacrifice is too much to allow peace to reign. It is a palliative technique which involves capitulation and appeasement. In the compromise strategy, parties to the conflict are willing to give up something in order to settle the conflicting problem. The last approach is collaboration which is a win-win approach whereby parties to a conflict are prepared, willing and ready to satisfy each other demands fully. Except for the collaboration strategy which is reflected in behaviours that are both cooperative and assertive, all other approaches depend majorly on the structure of the organisation, because they provide a short term solution to conflict situations.

Most conflicts in Nigerian tertiary institutions arise as the government, as well as the management, are not fulfilling their collective agreement with their employees and usually persist due to the approach in managing the conflict. An instance in case is the recent sixty five days (65) industrial action embarked on by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics where they are demanding for the constitution of governing councils for all publicly owned polytechnics as well as the payment of arrears of CONTISS 15 to all polytechnic staff with effect from 2107. This has resulted in employees embarking on industrial action which may be work-to-rule or total strike. Employees’ industrial action usually leaves them with low morale, decrease in productivity, loss of skilled personnel, absenteeism, low employees commitment to work, and health issues due to stress and depression. Against this background, the study therefore examined the effect of conflict management styles on employee performance in selected tertiary institutions in Kwara State, Nigeria.

Statement of the problem

Quite visibly, most organizations have devoted a greater part of their economic time and efforts towards settling conflict related issues arising from disagreements on welfare and other sundry issues which reduce their productive capacities. This is largely because of non-accommodation of individual’s group interests in the scheme of things. This scenario has continued unabated, hence posing a negative challenge to industrial and economic growth of an organisation. It has been observed that Nigerian institutions ofhigher learning have for decades been faced with so many crises ranging from conflicts between academic staff and school administrators, students versus academic staff, students versus school authorities, non-teaching staff versus school administrators. In recent time, similar to the above mentioned problems is the contending issue of IPPIS (Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System) for payment of workers’ salaries thereby leading to unrest and non-collaboration between the federal government and the various labour unions as well as stakeholders within the academic environment. The above stated problems have also given rise to distrust and hostility among professionals and academics thereby hampering smooth, effective and efficient administration in the institutions of  higher learning. It also appeared that despite these situations, stakeholders in the education sector seemed to develop nonchalant attitude towards these conflicts (Alajekwu&Alajekwu, 2017). Also, institutions conventionally used various conflict resolutions to solve lingering problems but have failed to identify the particular approach that is best suited for a particular problem (Amirkhani and Farahani, 2016). This has caused a lot of frictions which make compromise practically impossible while on the negotiation table for conflict management and its eventual resolution. Just like any other organisation, the employees of Nigerian tertiary institutions and the government are always enmeshed in one conflict or the other over the years ranging from funding and better working condition among other demands (Wahab, 2018). For instance, most common reason labour unions go on strike almost every year is the government’s refusal or inability to meet their demands as well as their inability to reach compromise on nagging issues. Other problems include: management of limited resources, coping with increased student enrolment, poor performance of students in examinations, and inadequate funding all these and more hinders interpersonal relationships. However, most of the studies on conflict management concentrated on performance of business entity with little or no effort to assess the effectiveness of conflict management strategies in relation to performance of tertiary institutions in terms of employees’ commitment, employees’ productivity as well as job satisfaction. The gap of which is expected to be bridged by this current study. Researchers and conflict management experts view that conflict posed a big threat in organizational performance (Amineh and Ali, 2014; Mba, 2013) while other scholars are of the view that it is capable of increasing organisational performance (Uchendu, Anijaobi-Idem andOdigwe 2013,Etim and Okey, 2013).Nevertheless, Onu and Hammed (2015) stated that, the effect of conflict, either negative or positive depends on how it is handled.

Objective of the study

The main objective of this study was to examine the effect of conflict management styles on employees’ performance in selected tertiary institutions in Kwara State, Nigeria, while the specific objectives of the study were to:

  1. Assess the effect of accommodation strategy on employees’ commitment in tertiary institutions in Kwara State, Nigeria.
  2. Investigate the effect of collaboration strategy on employees’ productivity in tertiary institutions in Kwara State, Nigeria.
  • Determine the effect of compromise strategy on job satisfaction in tertiary institutions in Kwara State, Nigeria

Research question

The following are the Research Questions for this study:

  1. To what extent does accommodation strategy affect employees’ commitment in tertiary institutions in Kwara State, Nigeria?
  2. What is the relationship between collaboration strategy and employees’ productivity in tertiary institutions in Kwara State, Nigeria?
  3. How does compromise strategy affect job satisfaction in tertiary institutions in Kwara State, Nigeria?

Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were formulated in order to achieve the objectives of the study.

H01: Accommodation strategy has no significant effect on employees’ commitment in tertiary institutions in Kwara State, Nigeria.

H02: Collaboration strategy has no significant effect on employees’ productivity in tertiary institutions in Kwara State, Nigeria.

H03: Compromise strategy has no significant effect on job satisfaction in tertiary institutions in Kwara State, Nigeria.

Significance of the study

This study will be of immense benefits to polytechnics management, research scholars, educational policy makers and indeed government, among others on the effect of conflict management on employee performance in tertiary institutions. Specifically, the results and recommendations would contribute more towards the understanding of the conflict management and how it affects employees’ performance. The study will promote harmonious relationship between employees of tertiary institutions and the management which is expected to enhance employee commitment, employees’ productivity as well as job satisfaction which will invariably lead to delivering of quality education and services. For employees in tertiary institution, it will avail them with various approaches on how to handle conflict resolution instead of embarking on unnecessary strikes which may jeopardize the educational system. The outcome of the study will promote peaceful and harmonious relationships amongst various labour unions and management of Public and Private educational institutions in Nigeria. Finally, for the academic community, the study will provide opportunity for researchers to have basic understanding of conflict management that will give them an insight to conduct similar studies in other sectors apart from educational sector and even amongst the private individuals

Scope of the study

The study focused on all academic staff of some selected tertiary institutions in Kwara State, Nigeria specifically, The Federal Polytechnic Offa, Kwara State Polytechnic Ilorin and Lens Polytechnic, Offa. The choice of these institutions as the respondents of this study is because of proper understanding and the existence of numerous conflicts bedevilling with them. Not only that, these three tertiary institutions cut across public and private institutions with diverse demographic background of employees working in these institutions. The study will only take into consideration, three elements of conflict management: accommodation strategy, collaboration strategy and compromise strategy among other numerous factors observed by previous studies that exert strong influence on employees’ performance: job satisfaction, employees’ commitment and employees’ productivity, because conflict situation result in negative and proactive effects. They may help diffuse more serious conflicts, stimulate a search for new facts or resolution increase group cohesion and performance, and demonstrate the power or ability of the conflicting parties. Conflicts could hinder smooth working on the decision making process, or create competing g coalition or reduce productivity.

Definition of terms

Conflict: The essence of conflict seems to be disagreement, contradiction, or incompatibility. Thus, Conflict refers to any situation in which there are incompatible Goals, Cognitions, or Emotions within or between individuals or groups that leads to opposition or antagonistic reactions (Adomis&Anie, 2005).

Conflict Management: conflict management is the process by which disputes are resolved, where negative results are minimized and positive results are prioritized. This key management skill involves using different tactics depending on the situation, negotiation, and creative thinking (Adebile&Ojo 2012).

 Performance: Due to the poly semantic nature performance proves to be a concept difficult to characterise, and associated definitions are often too general or too specific, ambiguous or even abstract. Theory and practice in the field of performance management demonstrate the influence of external and internal factors in understanding and defining performance. Performance must be analysed and defined closely to targeted objectives. As an entity’s objectives are volatile, controversial and contradictory, performance is a phenomenon with astrong subjectiveness (Akanji 2005).

Employee Commitment: Employee commitment has to do with the level of loyalty and identification an employee has for the organisation he is working for. It is that which makes an employee to give the best to ensure that the organisation performs well. Ming-Huei (2007), opines that employees’ commitment is an employee’s identification with the organisation and his psychological support to its mission (Anthony, 2017). Employee Productivity: is a metric that is calculated based on the amount of output on a project versus the amount of time it takes, in measuring employee productivity, it will show how efficient the employees’ are use for a task or project. This metric itself can be used to determine if a project needs more or less workers. Also, it means a balance between all factors of production that will give the maximum output with the smallest effort (Spector, 1997).

Job Satisfaction: this is the pleasure felt after a need is fulfilled. One would suppose a person is satisfied when his or her expectations or desires or requirements have been met. Job satisfaction describes how much extent an individual is pleased, comfortable or satisfied with his or her job. Also, it is a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of ones’ job or job experiences Akanbi, Abdulraheem&Ajeigbe, 2019).

Accomodation Strategy: Accommodating strategy indicates intermediate concern for self and others. It involves give – and- take or sharing whereby both parties give up something to make a mutually acceptable decision. It may mean splitting the difference, exchanging concession, or seeking a quick, middle-ground position (Nwadike, 2019).

Collaborating Strategy: Is a method of conflict management in which a person tries to work together with the other person (Crystal, 2007). Kofman (2015), refers to it as constructive collaboration. He asserts that this approach reveals people’s preferences and constraints, and engages everyone in constructing solutions that go a long way beyond the original alternatives.

Compromising Strategy: is a useful technique, particularly when two parties have relatively equal power, thus no party can force its viewpoints on the other and the only solution is to compromise. It is also useful when there are no time constraints. If the problems are complex and multi-faceted, and the time is limited to solve them, it might be in the interest of conflicting parties to reach a compromise (Ebhote&Osemeke, 2015).

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