This study was conducted to determine the impact of industrial conflict management on employees’ performance amongst civil servants at the Ministry of Economic Planning in Asaba, Delta State. The sources of data that constituted this research work were primary and secondary data. A structured likert scale questionnaire was the instrument adopted to generate data. Simple percentage statistical tool was used. Coefficient correlation and regression data analysis were used to test hypothesis. The random sampling technique was also adopted to adequately generate information from respondents. The findings revealed that collective bargaining, joint consultation and arbitration were all measures of industrial conflict management within the organization, it was concluded that conflict management through these medium would go a long way at maintaining and sustaining harmony at workplace as well as improved employees performance. It was therefore recommended that for a peaceful organizational atmosphere, good working relationships between superior and subordinates as well as the Ministry of Economic Planning, conflicts should be adequately resolved using these tools.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Industrial conflicts in organizations are inevitable. For employees to perform their crucial roles effectively and efficiently there must exist a strong cordial relationship between the employees and employers in the organizations. Industrial conflict is an everyday phenomenon in each in each organization. There is a growing recognition of the importance of conflict management in an organization. A recent survey indicated that mangers spend a considerable portion of their time dealing with conflict and that conflict management becomes increasingly important to their effectiveness. (Obasin, 2011).
Onyeonoru (2005), defined industrial conflict as all expression of dissatisfaction within the employment relationship especially those pertaining to the employment contract and effort bargaining. Industrial conflict are viewed as the clash of interest and resulting dispute of varying intensity between individuals, groups and organizations in the industrial relation system(Akanji, 2005). Azamosa (2005) observed that conflicts involve the total range of behaviors and attitudes that is in opposition between owners/managers on the one hand and employees on the other hand. It is a state of disagreement over issues of substance or emotional antagonism and may arise due to anger, mistrust or personality clashes. Irrespective of the factors resulting in conflict, it has been observed that industrial conflicts produce considerable effects on organizations and should be consciously managed as much as possible. Obisi (1996) argues that despite this fact, peace forms one of the fundamental factors to enhanced productivity with resultant benefits to both the labour and management as well as for the economic development of the country. It will not be out of place therefore to consider industrial conflict as an inevitable and desirable factor in the work place.
Because of the wide range of potential difference among people, the absence of conflict usually signals the absence of meaningful interactions. Conflict by itself is neither good nor bad. However, the manner in which conflict is managed determines whether it is constructive or destructive (Deutsch and Coleman, 20000. Thus conflict remains the most permanent feature that makes humanity convinced that growth and development are predicated on conflicts. Though conflict is generally perceived as something devastating, abnormal, dysfunctional and detestable, yet it could be a precursor of positive change if constructively handled (Edward, 200).
Conflict management suggests solving conflict instead of reducing, eliminating or limiting their durations. This means each organization should have a macro strategy, reducing the negative consequence of conflict (Gonan Bozac et al (2008). Conflict management implies integration of all factors which can contribute to conflict resolution or its prevention. These factors are improvement of communication and practicing discipline in the organization as well as having in mind the life phases of parties involved. Furthermore, conflict management according to Hellriegel and Slocum (1996), consists of the intervention designed to reduce conflict or in some instances to increase insufficient conflict. It is a process whereby managers design plans and implement policies and procedures to ensure that conflict situations are resolved effectively.
Inappropriately managed conflicts may result in abandonment of employees and disinclination on their part to contribute in other groups or assist with various groups or assist with various group actions activities in the work place. Hence, conflict management has the ability to handle conflict efficiently. Conflict handling refers to the methods used by any one or mutual groups in dealing with conflict (Gordon, 2003).
The development of this research work is largely due to the inability of leaders in Nigerian work organizations (Ministry of Economic Planning Asaba, Delta State) to view the management of industrial conflict as systematically as they view information, human resource and financial management system. Instead conflict is viewed and handled in piece meal and is considered a local event. The inability to view and manage work place conflict systematically has therefore rendered conflict dysfunctional in some organization. This is evident by high frequency of strike action, unhealthy rivalry between and among sub-units and individuals within an organization, sabotage of workplace, slow work, labour turnover, absenteeism, lack of productivity, withholding of vital information or knowledge and host of others that are being perpetrated by employees at the work place.
Hotepo et al (2010), argued strongly that effective conflict management is fueled by finding appropriate strategies to resolve the nature and causes of conflict diagnosed in an organization. The strategies to be adopted must vary according to the nature and causes of conflict. Conflict management influences individuals’ wellbeing, group performance and organizational effectiveness. However, this research work examines the impact of industrial conflict management on employees’ performance at the work place.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The Trade union decree of 1973 was enacted due to frequent re-occurrence of individual conflict at the work place and how it affects the performance of employees and management. The inability to deal with conflict at the workplace can result in huge loss of productivity and affect the individuals and groups involve in the conflict emotionally, which may lead to discrimination, unfair treatment, and inability to ask what one need among others. Conflict has got enormous attention of researchers in the last few decades because it becomes global threat to every organization. Conflict is an unpleasant fact in any organization as long as people compete for jobs, resources, power, recognition and security.
Conflict is one factor that contributed to waste of energy and employees capabilities. Since people normally possess different traits and characteristics, lack of conflict may indicate lack of meaningful interaction. However, conflicts are found in all organizations but it may be weak, strong, silent, outstanding or indistinctive. Researches also suggest that 20% of manager’s time is spent for resolving organizational conflict or its aftermath.
It has been observed that one of the factors of conflict in the organization is the gap in the bargaining power of the employees and their employers, so therefore, many questions pertaining to how can collective bargaining improve employees performance need to be asked. Also, arbitration and joint consultation as factors that can be used to manage conflict needs to be analyzed to see if they have impact on employees’ performance at the work place.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The general objective of this study is to examine the impact of industrial conflict management on employees’ performance. However, the specific objectives are:
- To determine the effect of collective bargaining as an aspect of conflict management on employees performance.
- To ascertain the effect of arbitration on employees performance at the work place.
- To determine if joint consultation as an aspect of conflict management will have impact on employees performance.
- To determine how improved employees performance affect employees commitment at the work place.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION
1. What is the effect of collective bargaining on employees’ performance?
2. What effect does arbitration have on employees’ performance?
3. What is the impact of joint consultation on employees’ performance?
4. Does improved employees performance have an effect on employee’s commitment toward work?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
Ho1: There is no significant relationship between collective bargaining and employees’ performance.
Ho2: There is no significant relationship between arbitration and employees performance.
Ho3: There is no significant relationship between improved employees performance and employees commitment toward work.