THE INTERPLAY BETWEEN CONFLICT MANAGEMENT AND ACADEMIC STAFF PERFORMANCE
1.1 Background to the Study
It is an established fact that the vision of Universities is to be pace-setting institutions in terms of learning, character building and service to mankind with a mission to produce competent and resourceful graduates with high moral standards in our society, and the total development of men and women in an enabling environment. Over the years universities have played dominant roles in developing the world. Universities are usually in the forefront of any social, economic and political challenges, especially with the power of research being focused on areas that will promote human development and solve existential problems (Amadi and Precious, 2015).
Conflict is constant and an inevitable part of any organization and the University system is not exempted. The concept of conflict is associated with the “conflict theory” as organizations deal with people competing for self-interest. However, strike, an extreme form of industrial conflict, can be avoided, but most organizations hardly ever plan to avoid or manage it even when they know it must occur. For example, government knows that Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) must go on strike on the expiration of ultimatum but government hardly ever thinks of preparing in advance to avoid the strike (Ezeagba, 2014).
According to Igbaji (2009), in an industrial relations system, conflicts arise between workers and managers chiefly because of their different ideologies and opposing interests. Students across various educational institutions of higher learning particularly in Lagos State are constantly faced with industrial actions either by the Academic or Non-Academic Staff. The disagreement or lack of understanding between government and academic community often result in deadlock that usually disrupt academic calendar with some dire consequences on academic staff performance of the institutions (Admin 2012).
Academic staff like all other industrial workers uses strike to drive home their demands. Between 1992 and 1995, the crises in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions took a turn for the worse (Amadi and Precious, 2015). According to Adeyemi (2010) the main aim of University education in Nigeria is to give very sound and qualitative education which will enable the individual to function effectively in any environment in which he finds himself. This objective that hinges on the performance of academic staff in the higher institutions is often being threatened with poor incentive schemes that deter workers commitment, motivation and satisfaction.
Conflicts will always occur but a well-managed conflict will not degenerate to violence. Since violence will not erupt without conflict as antecedents, one can assume that many of the conflicts in tertiary institutions is because their antecedents (causes) were not properly managed or that the conflicting parties did not explore the power of communication and conflict manager’s personality in resolving the crises (Agbonna; Yusuf and Onifade, 2009). Hence, this study seeks to investigate the interplay between conflict management and academic staff performance in Lagos State University.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The economic downturn in Nigeria in the last two decades has led to poor salaries and wages for workers while in the face of this the government introduced minimum wage policy to cushion the effect. Despite all these, the attendant disparity in incomes and the resultant effect of inflation has produced great dissatisfaction and agitations among Nigerian workers, which has often resulted in incessant conflicts and industrial actions in almost every work place.
Lagos State University is faced with a myriad of problems ranging from inadequate facilities to lack of infrastructures. Other problems include: coping with increased students’ admission, inadequate funding, industrial actions between and among workers and government, personality factors, and the role of strike actions, that may hinder inter-personal relationships as well as performance of workers.
There seem to be divided opinion about the probable effect of conflicts among workers; Edinyang and Ubi (2013), Adavbiele (2015) assert that conflict is a leading cause of under-performance and low morale among academic staff in higher institutions. On the contrary, Olu and Dupe (2008), Obasan (2011) do not see conflict as being all negative as they posit that good conflict improves decision outcomes especially on task-related conflict and group productivity by increasing the quality through a constructive criticism, since most task related conflict allows the exchange of ideas and assist better performance among work force. Whether conflict is negatively or positively related to academic staff performance of Lagos State University for the present study is an issue that remains open to empirical investigation.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The major objective of this research work is to ascertain the interplay between conflict management and academic staff performance in Lagos State University. Other specific objectives of the study are:
1. To examine the effect of conflict management on academic staff performance in Lagos State University.
2. To examine the effect of strike action on academic staff commitment in Lagos State University.
3. To find out if poor incentives scheme is a leading cause of workers dissatisfaction in Lagos State University.
4. To explore the effect of academic staff conflict on students’ academic performance.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions are guides to finding answer to the problems under investigations.
1. What is the effect of conflict management on academic staff performance in Lagos State University?
2. To what extent does strike action have effect on academic staff commitment in Lagos State University?
3. Is poor incentive scheme a leading cause of workers dissatisfaction in Lagos State University?
1.5 Statement of Hypotheses
For the purpose of the research work, the following hypotheses are formulated:
H0: There is no significant relationship between conflict management and academic staff performance in Lagos State University.
H1: There is a significant relationship between conflict management and academic staff performance in Lagos State University
Ho: Strike action does not have an effect on academic staff commitment in Lagos State University
Hi: Strike action has an effect on academic staff commitment in Lagos State University
H0: Poor incentives scheme is not significantly related to workers dissatisfaction in Lagos State University
H1: Poor incentives scheme is significantly related to workers dissatisfaction in Lagos State University