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1.1     Background to the Study

In the early 1900’s, conflict was seen as an indicator of poor organizational management which needed to be avoided, in the mid 1950’s, it was accepted passively and perceived as normal and expected; manager focused on resolving conflict, while in the 1970’s, conflict was viewed necessary as not good or bad but could be used to promote growth, in the 1990’s, managers needed to confront and manage conflict appropriately (Algert and Watson, 2002). Organisational conflict has historically been viewed as unpleasant, undesirable, something to be avoided by all and sundry (Oseremen and Osemeke, 2015).

Perceptions about conflict changed with the emergence of social systems and open system theory. According to the social system theories, conflict is one of the central forms of interaction. Conflict is normal and positive as well as negative. This view was supported by Emile Durkheim that conflict is normal and functional because it brings about positive changes in an organization. Conflict, however, becomes negative if it is not managed and allows reaching a dysfunctional stage (Ajike, Akinlabi and Magaji, 2015).

When people work and interact together, things do not always turn the way people want it to be. There are always misunderstandings and things do not always go smoothly. Indeed, conflict is an inevitable element of relationships in organizations. Conflict is a natural occurrence in all businesses, may it be a small organization or a big corporation. What makes them only different is how management views and addresses conflicts in their respective organizations (Garcia, 2013).

The role of conflict management in the life of an organization cannot be overemphasized. The establishment and continuous existence of organisation through the realization of its set goals and objectives requires the continuous and effective functioning of its material input with the human element being indispensable. However, the human elements required to facilitate goals attainment often engage in disagreement and variance over factors such as interest, views, style of management among others. The reactionary effect is due to the perceived incompatibilities resulting typically from some form of interference or opposition is term conflict (Obasan, 2011;Mughal and  Khan, 2013).

Conflict in organization is a state of friction caused by the actual or perceived opposition of needs, values and interests between people working together. Conflict takes many forms in organizations. There is the foreseeable clash between formal authority and power and those individuals and groups affected. There are disputes over how revenues should be divided, how the work should be done and how long and hard people should work. There are jurisdictional disagreements among individuals,departments, and between unions and management (Oseremen and Osemeke, 2015).

For people to progress at work and other aspect of life, there must be cooperation which is essential to ensure task attainment and stability in life. However, it would be wrong to reach the conclusion that cooperation is good while conflict is bad, this is because both concepts are pervasive and co-exist in our social life. Industrial conflict is inevitable given the wide range of goals for the different stakeholder in the organization and its absence signifies management emphasizes conformity and stifles innovation (Obasan, 2011).

Esquivel (1997) argued that conflict is unpleasant, undesirable, something to be avoided. On the contrary, Azamosa (2004) countered that conflicts can help strengthened the organisation and enable the organisation to improve its performance. Moreover, Olu and Dupe (2008) submitted that there is growing recognition of the importance of conflict in an organization. Whether in fact conflict is negative or positive to organizational performance is an issue that remained opened to empirical studies.

1.2     Statement of the Problem

Conflict emerges in an organization when an individual perceives that his goals are threatened or hindered by the activities of another person. Most conflicts in Nigeria Bottling Company arises from the inability of the company to fulfill its collective agreement with its employees resulting in employees embarking on industrial action which may be work-to-rule or total strike. Employees’ industrial action usually results in loss of man-hours, machine-hours, output, skilled personnel, employees’ morale, blackmailing of organizational reputation and retardation of corporate performance.

Though, Nigeria Bottling Company has not been experiencing incessant labour unrest of lately, it becomes pertinent to examine its conflict management strategies and employees performance from the perception of the managerial and non-managerial employees of the company.

There are other factors that can contribute to the creation of conflict in organizations like task interdependence, scarce resources, goal incompatibility, communication failures, individual differences and poorly designed reward system (Mgbekem, 2004).

Many of the studies on the impact of conflict management on organizational performance were done outside Nigeria. These studies particularly focus on educational institutions. Research on conflict management and process organizational performance are very few. In Nigeria, most of the available studies about conflict management such as Adebile and Ojo (2012), Osisioma, Osisioma and Chukwuemeka (2012), Bankole and Lawal (2012), Fatile and Adejuwon (2011) investigated causes of conflicts across various organizational settings. These researches were also theoretical studies whose findings were subjectively based on researchers’ personal opinions. It is noted that the past studies did not give attention to the impact of conflict management on organizational performance, as well as highlighting effective conflict management strategy that can stimulate better organization performance. Hence, the undertaking of this research work will fill in the gap by critically exploringthe effect of conflict management on organizational performance with a special reference to Nigeria Bottling Company.

1.3     Objectives of the Study

The major objective of this study will be to investigate the effects of industrial conflict on organizational performance. While other specific objectives of the study include:

i.To investigate if there is any significant relationship between industrial conflict and organizational performance.

ii.To determine the effect of labour unrest on organizational productivity.

iii.To find out if conflict management has any significant effect on employee performance.

iv.To examine the effect of industrial conflict on organizational growth and survival.

v.To find out if labour unrest and agitation has effect on organizational reputation.

1.4     Research Questions

This study will be guided be the following research questions:

i.Is there any significant relationship between industrial conflict and organizational performance?

ii.What is the impact of labour unrest on organizational productivity?

iii.Is there any significant relationship between conflict management and  employee performance?

iv.What are the plausible recommendation for improving organizational performance?

1.5     Research Hypotheses

The researcher intends to test the following hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance:

Hypothesis 1:

Ho:   There is no significant relationship between industrial conflict and            organizational performance.

HI:There is a significant relationship between industrial conflict and            organizational performance.

Hypothesis 2:

Ho:     Labour unrest does not have any significant effect on organizational      productivity.

HI:    labour unrest has a significant effect on organizational         productivity.

Hypothesis 3:

Ho:     There is no significant relationship between conflict management and    employee performance.

HI:  There is a significant relationship between conflict management and      employee performance.

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research


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