CONFLICTS IN NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES: CAUSES AND
Alabi, A. T. (Ph.D.)
Department of Educational Management, University of llorin, llorin
This paper focuses on conflict between individuals and between groups as a universal phenomenon of management and organizational behaviour. It recognizes conflict .as an inherent feature of organization, and induced, in part, by the very structure of the organization. The structure of universities allows the sharing of functional boundaries among students, staff, and administrators. The complexities of the resultant interactions result in conflicts. Specifically, these conflicts are caused by factors such as limited resources, differences in perception, autonomy drives, role conflict, and political and national issues. The paper further examines the nature and causes of conflicts within the university system and suggests some strategies to minimize the harmful effects of conflicts.
Conflicts are inevitable in any organization. This is more so in an organization as a university with a structure that allows two or more units or groups to share functional boundaries in achieving its set objectives. In universities, people with differing nature -students, lecturers and administrative staff - have to work harmoniously together. Hence, the organizational structure is such that staff and staff, students and students, and staff and students share functional boundaries of exchange of knowledge.
The goal of university education is pursued through its main functions and activities of teaching, research, dissemination of existing and new information, service to the community, and being a storehouse of knowledge (FRN, 1981). In carrying out these functions, there are always conflicts within and among the categories of people within the university community, namely students, academics, administrators, non-academics and their unions. These categories of people have different purposes and expectations from the university. The non-academics who perform support- function might feel unappreciated by both the superior academics and the potentially more prestigious students. The administrators might also clash with students and staff in carrying out their functions of recruitment, admission, examination and provision of welfare services for the staff and students. Also, the academics have a complex dual role of teaching and research. The two, though reinforce one another, could be a source of much tension over the individual's division of time, energy and commitment.
The students' purposes are perhaps the most complex of all. As a heterogeneous group, they have conflict within each of them, yet they have to conform to learning certain things in order to acquire a degree. In contrast, there is the burning desire of the 'angry' late adolescents not only to belong to the world, but to reform it. This desire leads to a fierce challenging of accepted orthodox practices. It then becomes necessary to examine the resultant effects of conflicts on the attainment of the goal of university education. Conflicts usually result into activities such as disruption of university programmes, boycott of lectures, loss of lives and properties and closing down of institutions. These activities have culminated into the truncated academic programmes leading to elongated university calendars.
It should be noted, however, that conflicts have some positive roles to play in an
organisation, most especially in sensitizing groups to the needs and aspirations of others. Prompt responses to such sensitization often prevent the damaging effects of conflicts. The purpose of this paper is to examine the intent and manifest causes of conflicts in Nigerian universities with a view to suggesting effective ways of managing their negative impact.
Concept and Causes of Conflicts
Conflict has its origin in difference in objectives, interest efforts, approach, timing, attitudes and the likes....
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