1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Conflicts are inevitable part of organizational life since the goals of different stakeholders such as managers and staff are often incompatible (Jones et al, 2000). Conflict is an unpleasant fact in any organization as longer as people compete for jobs, resources, power, recognition and security. Organizational conflict can be regarded as a dispute that occurs when interests, goals or values of different individuals or groups are incompatible with each other (Henry, 2009). This results into a situation whereby they frustrate each other in an attempt to achieve their objectives. Conflict arises in groups because of the scarcity of freedom, position, and resources. People who value independence tend to resist the need for interdependence and, to some extent, conformity within a group. People who seek power therefore struggle with others for position or status within the group.
Conflict is a part of organizational life and may occur between individuals, between the individual and the group, and between groups (Weihrich, 2002). While conflict is generally perceived as dysfunctional, it can also be beneficial because it may cause an issue to be presented in different perspectives. Conflict has both positive and negative effects (Russell and Jerome, 2006). It can be positive when it encourages creativity, new looks at old conditions, the clarification of points of view, and the development of human capabilities to handle interpersonal differences. Conflict can be negative when it creates resistance to change, establishes turmoil in organization or interpersonal relations fosters distrust, builds a feeling of defeat, or widens the chasm of misunderstanding.
Unfortunately, the term "conflict" has only the connotation of "bad" for many people; so much so that they think principally in terms of suppression, giving little or no attention to its more positive side. Rico (2004) emphasizes this by stating that it seems entirely likely that many, if not most, organizations need more conflict, not less. Pondy (2002) also stated that the absence of conflict may indicate autocracy, uniformity, stagnation, and mental fixity; the presence of conflict may be indicative of democracy, diversity, growth, and self-actualization. Tjosvold (2008) complements this statement arguing that conflict is not the opposite of cooperation but a mechanism that allows to perceive benefits of cooperative work. Furthermore, conflict is considered psychologically and socially healthy. It is psychologically healthy because it provides a breather for frustrations and enables a feeling of participation and even of joy. And it is sociable healthy because it encourages opposition to the status quo and provides conditions for social chances and democracy stemming from pluralism and respect to diversity. Therefore, according to Butler (2003), conflict is ubiquitous, not necessarily dysfunctional and can be required to defy people to perform and stimulate progress. This research project studied the causes, effects and remedies of organizational conflicts in Nigeria. It investigates the personal characteristics of the respondents, their views about conflict, categories of staff they have experienced conflicts with, types of conflicts experienced, reasons for conflicts, sources of organizational conflicts, factors that have caused conflicts, the effects as well as remedies for organizational conflicts in Nigerian organizations.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Organizational conflicts are inevitable and are neither good nor bad. As organizational workforce becomes increasingly diverse, the stage for conflict becomes set as a result of sprawling differing goals, perceptions, values, commitments and demands on resources.
Globalizations and reductions of trade barriers simultaneously reduce many companies’ resources. At the same time, many organizational processes increase the interdependence among persons and units. This mix of reduced resources and heightened interdependence underpins many organizational conflicts.