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Conflict Management In Local Government Services
CONFLICT MANAGEMENT IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICES
This research study is to investigate the conflict management in local government service with particular reference to Ojo local government being the local government use as a case study for this work. Conflict management is very crucial in the achievement of each other actually when there are employers over some issues like condition of work or condition of employment.
The local government, which is the third tier of the executive arm of government, is established to meet the welfare the local people
The ubiquitous presence of conflict can hinder the local government constitutional duties. The activities of various social groups in the local government if not effectively controlled or managed can be costly in terms performance and reputation. The instrument used to carry out this study effectively was the questionnaire which was administered to the staff of Ojo local government area total number of one number (100) questionnaire, were administered which the hypotheses using percentage while the hypothesis was tested with the chi-square statistics.
The result and funding of the study reveal that conflict management in the local government is the fundamental phenomenon that affects the performance of the local government management of its employee.
1.1 Background to Study
Conflict is “an unavoidable aspect of human interaction and an unavoidable concomitant of choices and decisions…The problem, then is not to court the frustrations of seeking to remove inevitability but of trying to keep conflicts in bound” (Zartman, 1991:209). In short, conflict is not an anathema; it is the whole essence of governance. It thus follows that any responsive government has the responsibility of responding to conflicts arising from the operations and activities of the political agents and the political subjects within the political system. In fact, how a government succeeds in this process of conflict management eventually determines the longevity of the regime, and as well determines the intensity and brevity of any social conflict arising within the system.
The political and economic cost of managing a conflict at its formative stage is less expensive than when it is allowed to escalate, for the latter leads to a lot of debilitating outcomes, blockage of the governing process, a widening gap in the state-society relations, outbreak of violence and finally, state collapse. Strictly speaking then, violence is the escalation of conflict. In other words, violence occurs when conflicts are allowed to escalate.
The challenge facing Nigeria and indeed most developing countries under undemocratic governments is that the use of force as an article of faith for managing conflicts has led to the further intensification of conflicts. Apart from competing demands serving as the basis for conflicts, there are other important economic, religious and social factors. In this direction, Mkandawire (1992:6) has argued that “…the economic conjectures have fuelled a whole range of goals including those that are not limited to human rights and ethnic identity”. In the present day Nigeria, conflicts have become a celebrated concept in view of its manifestation in virtually all aspects of human life. It exists very strongly in people’s mind even when it is not physically manifesting (Ekwe-Ekwe, 1990:5-10).
In this paper, the strong notion of conflict will be used instead of the weak. The view that conflict is universal, since every human relation is so characterised constitutes the weak notion of conflict. However, the actual incidents of conflict which do not only exist in the mind but in physical display and manifestations, whereby there are physical exchanges of assaults; expression of
contradictory opinion on issues of policies; serious disagreement between two or more agents; and instances of strained relationships well as calculated attempts by some agents to frustrate the efforts of others in an implicit or explicit manner, altogether constitute the strong notion of conflict used in this paper.
Moreover, the notion of local governance that is employed in this piece coincides with that of PiereLandell – Mills (1991) in his writing for the World Bank on a special project bordering on governance. According to him, governance entails:
…The use of political authority and exercise of control over a society and the management of its resource for socio-economic development.
He further contends that the concept:
…Encompasses the nature of functioning of a state’s institutional and structural arrangements, decision making processes, policy formulation, implementation capacity, information flow, effectiveness of leadership and the nature of the relationship between rulers and ruled (Pierre Landell-Mills and Ismail Sarageldin, 1991: 3).
The application of the above concept to operations and activities in the local government setting amount to local governance. In other words, local governance is governance at the local level.
Conflict is common in all aspects of life and exists at all levels. Accordingly, the task of managing conflict is an essential one for leaders in Local Government Authority (Green, 1984; Marion, 1995). Conflict is inevitable in workplace settings and can arise between co-workers, supervisors and subordinates or between employees and external stakeholders. Managing conflict is a key management competency, and all employees should study and practice effective conflict management skills to maintain positive and healthy work environment.
Conflict is an endemic problem of any social situation. Whenever people who have different goals and different outlooks on life come together, conflict is inevitable. Finding a way to manage these natural conflicts and limit them is crucially important in Local Government Authorities. Conflict distracts from work, so reducing it will improve an organization’s effectiveness performance. Conflict management strategies can be measured to gauge their effectiveness. Conflict and its outcomes are crucial to the study of individuals and teams within organizations. Relationship conflict, due to its personal and emotional nature, has been shown to interfere with team performance and decreases satisfaction (De Dreu&Weingart, 2003)
Kreiter and Kinick (2011) stipulate that, the evolution of conflict resolution can be traced back to the 20th century and argue that conflict resolution is about active management of both functional and dysfunctional conflicts.
Conflict can be a serious problem in an organization; it creates chaotic conditions that make nearly impossible for employees to work together. On the other side, conflict has the positive side that it improves the quality of decision, stimulates creativity and innovation, encourages interest and curiosity among group members and provides the medium through which views can be aired and tensions released. Also, it fosters an environment of self-evaluation and change (Robbins, 2001)
The history of LGAs in Nigeria shows the existence of conflict between the Councilors and employees, employers and trade unions in councils. Trade unions and employers where the former demand employees‟ right is an example of conflict in Local Government. A blatant example of conflict in Nigeria is the one between Government and Teachers about rights of Teachers. Also, differences of values between Christians‟ and Muslims in Nigeria have resulted in several covert and overt conflicts
Salary delays for primary and secondary schools newly recruited teachers in Councils caused conflict with employers in 2013. The problem reached a point where teachers took their complaints direct to the Ministry of education and vocation training and the Deputy Director of teachers department in the Ministry of education and vocation training H. Lihawa admitted that salary delays for primary and secondary schools teachers have resulted in teachers‟ poor performance. (The Guardian 31st July, 2013)
Thomas (2000) in his report stipulates that management spends about 25% of the time per week dealing with conflict resolution as well as 75% of managers spend their timeon solving conflicts in most organization, he argued that management takes more time to solve conflicts rather than in productivity.
Therefore, this study intended to investigate on the types, areas, and causes, effects of conflict on performance, and methods or strategies to manage conflict in LGAs.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Conflict in Local Government services is inevitable and now is becoming more evident that management of conflict is something that needs to be recognized and solved. Conflict between Councillors, District Executive Directors and employees has been exists in the Councils. Conflicts in LGAs may be influenced by Council priorities, budget constraints, national priorities, flows of information and planning priorities. Conflict affects the physical and mental health of employees by creating tension, stress, guilt, frustration and hostility (Robbins, 2001)
Conflict in Ojo LGA is a common occurrence resulting from unsolved conflict between Councillors, employer and employees. In 2011/2012, there were three employees in Ojo, a land officer, pharmacist and senior driver who decided to resign the job due to conflict with employer. Also there was another conflict that involved the HOD and five employees from different department in which the HOD and the employees were transferred to other Council as a means of avoiding conflict.
The risks for Ojo LGA if the conflict remains unresolved are: reduced motivation, initiatives, poor communication, staff resignation, transfer of employees to another Council, affect decision making, planning and implementation of Council project and hinder prosperity of the Council. This study aimed to find out the types, areas, causes, effects of conflict on performance and styles or strategies to manage conflict in Ojo LGA.
1.4 Research Objectives
The general objective of the study was to investigate the conflict management practices in LGAs. The specific objectives are stated as follows;
(a) To identify types of conflict available in Ojo LGA.
(b) To find out areas of conflict found in Ojo LGA.
(c) To find out the causes of conflict in Ojo LGA.
(d) To find out the effects of conflict on performance.
(e) To examine the styles for managing conflict in Ojo LGA.
1.5 Research Questions
(a) What types of conflict exist in Ojo LGA?
(b) Which areas of conflict are found at Ojo LGA?
(c) What are the causes of conflict in Ojo LGA?
(d) To what extent does conflict affect performance?
(e) What are the available styles or strategies for Conflict management in Ojo LGA?
1.6 Significance of the study
Identifying styles or strategies of conflict management in LGAs is important since it increases performance and reduces tension and stress among Councillors, employer and staff. This study is helpful in LGAs in the process of handling and managing conflicts. It is helpful in identifying the main types, areas, causes, effects and successful methods for managing conflict at work places. The study will be useful for policy and decision makers at the level of LGAs in formulating appropriate policies and strategies which will be geared towards establishing mechanisms for reducing conflict between Councillors, employers and employees.
The study may help practitioners to understand better on how to manage conflict and become more effective in the conflict management process. Likewise, the study will help and provide important inputs to management in managing conflict effectively. It will enable the Ojo LGAto use the research findings as a guide for conducting Councillors and employee assessment in terms of their competencies in managing conflict and improve service delivery to citizens, improve decision making process and enhance good relationship between Councillors, employers and employees in LGAs.
The findings of the study will be used as an empirical literature and a benchmark for other researchers who will be interested in the area especially on the strategies for managing conflict in LGAs
1.7 Study Delimitation
The study was conducted in Ojo LGA, it was selected purposively due to the fact that Ojo LGAis one of the areas where different types of conflicts. The study was confined to determining the successful methods of conflict management in LGAs. The study identified types of conflict that exists, areas, causes of conflict, and methods for managing conflict in Local Government Authorities particularly in Ojo LGAwhere the study was carried out. The outcomes of the study have impact on the prosperity of the councils in terms of accountability and participation on decision making at council level.
1.8 Study Limitations
The researcher encountered a number of limitations during the study as noted here: firstly, limited financial resources due to inadequate financial support. Thus, the researcher had to use own resources not allocated for the study. Furthermore, the timeallocated for the study was not enough to undergo an intensive study since the researcher was also busy with her office activities where she was employed. To resolve these limitations, the research budget was minimized and kept the study under control by focusing on only one LGAin order to manage the study within allocated time.