CAUSES AND EFFECT OF CONFLICT IN ORGANIZATIONS
It is an incontrovertible statement of fact that the only place where conflict does not exist is in the graveyard. If conflict is therefore pervasive among all human groupings, then organizations are not left out. As such we intend to explain as brief as we can the source, causes and effects of conflict in organizations in this write-up.
Conflict can be seen as the clash of two opposing ideologies or beliefs, interest etc. which results into argument or disagreement. Organizations are compositions of people with different social, educational and religious background who come together to work in unity in other to achieve a common targeted goals that a single person among them cannot achieve single-handedly. There are also two major classes in industrial organization – the employers and the employed – whose goals and aspirations usually contradict and conflict. This no doubt keeps the two social group or industrial actors to often be at loggerhead.
From the above submission, industrial conflict can be defined as ‘all expressions of dissatisfaction within employment relationship especially those that pertain to terms and conditions of employment and the bargaining process involved. This means that for instance at the bargaining table an attempt by one party to cheat on the other party will induce conflict. This is why Ogunbameru (2000) defined conflict as ‘the processes that begin when one party perceives that another party has negatively affected or is about to negatively affect something that the first party cares about’. Industrial conflict is usually used synonymously with TRADE DISPUTE and is defined by the Trade Dispute Act, 1976 as ‘any disagreement or dispute between workers and workers or between workers and employers regarding the conditions of employment or unemployment of workers and the general conditions relating to employment’. Industrial conflict can be formal and informal. The formal conflict is usually carried out in an organized manner by organized group (either labour union or employers’ association) informal conflict is usually unorganized and it is manifested in such attitude as sabotage etc.
SOURCES VS CAUSES OF CONFLICT
Here, it is important to differentiate from ‘sources’ and ‘causes’ of industrial conflict. While the former explains the place or nature with which or from which conflict emanates. It explains the reason why conflict is endemic and inevitable, the latter explains those conditions that may warrant conflict to germinate and become issues of concern. This is because conflict at its source may not necessarily become issues of controversy, confrontation and concerns of all but conflict which is caused (either intentionally or not) will no doubt bring about controversies and confrontations which may not necessarily surface in conflict at its source.
SOURCES OF CONFLICT
Fajana (2000) identified two sources of conflict which include the (1) internal and (2) external source of conflict
The Internal Sources: are so called because they refer to factors which hare inherent within the framework of an organization. Fajana stated that the major prime factor of internal source of conflict is the ‘opposing interests’ of industrial actors. These ‘divergent interests’ will bring about conflict in attempts by the two parties in organizations to tried to share what Ajibade (2004) called ‘industrial cake’.
Apart from the above, it is another statement of fact that there is usually ‘power relationship’ between the two actors in an industry which no doubt produce conflict and make such inevitable.
External Sources: These are so called because they are outside the four walls of an organization, it may occur when the third party intervention to industrial dispute becomes one sided or bias. A good example is where government as the third and regulatory party tries to formulate policy or enact laws that favour one party at the detriment of the other, such may generate conflict.
CAUSES OF CONFLICT
As it is, some causes of industrial conflict are numerous and few but those considered important among them will be highlighted
1. Anon-recognition of labour union by the employer
2. Competition over resources or industrial cake. This is exemplified in the Marxist explanation of ‘class conflict’.
3. Autocratic management style
4. Communication breakdown or error
5. Conflicting objectives of the two parties
6. Unfair labour practices
7. Breach of agreement by either of the actors
8. Ambiguous authority and responsibility
9. Arbitrary retrenchment of workers
10. Job insecurity or actualization (sweet shops)
The above are the major factors causing industrial conflicts.
EFFECTS OF INDUSTRIAL CONFLICT
It is pertinent to state here that conflict itself does not directly affect actors in industrial organization rather it usually forces the actors to impose ‘sanctions’ at their disposal on each other so as to inflict economic pain on each other to press home their demand. For workers there are several sanctions or instrument of economic coercion that may be imposed on the employers in other to drive home their demand. These include strike, picketing, wont-to-rule, overtime ban, rag wearing, blacklisting etc. but ‘strike’ remains the most visible weapon used by workers. The employers on the other hand may inflict economic pain on the workers during trade dispute by making use of ‘lack-out, dismissal, suspension, no work no pay etc. ‘lock out’ is the major weapon that employers resort to during industrial action.
It is after this imposition of sanction on each other that conflict becomes effective and inflicts pain on both organizations and the actors within it.
Furthermore, because industrial relation is tripartite in nature, it becomes imperative to identify the effects of imposition of sanction on each actor.
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