NATURE AND SOURCES OF ORGANIZATIONAL CONFLICT AMONG UNIVERSITY EMPLOYEES: A CASE STUDY OF UNIVERSITY OF ZAMBIA STUDENTS AFFAIRS UNIT
Mwamba, Mukuka Brenda
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Conflict is an inseparable part of people’s lives. It is difficult to define as it occurs in many different settings. The essence of conflict seems to be disagreement, contradiction, or incompatibility. Thus, conflict refers to any situation in which there are incompatible goals, cognitions, or emotions within or between individuals of groups that lead to opposition of antagonistic interaction. It has its positive sides, although varying views of it may be held. Some may view conflict as a negative situation which must be avoided at any cost. The major aim of the current study was to explore the nature and sources of organizational conflict among employees in the Student’s Affairs Unit at the University of Zambia. Firstly, the study sought todescribe the nature of conflict among the employees in the unit. Secondly, the study investigated the sources of organizational conflict among employees in the unit. Thirdly, it established the factors that influenced persistence of conflict in the organization and lastly it sought to highlight the strategies currently used and those needed by the student’s affairs management to resolve the persisting conflicts at the institution. A qualitative design was used and Semi-structured interviews were carried out. Purposive sampling was used for the institution and convenient sampling was used for the participants. Two groups of participants involving subordinate employees (n=15) and supervisory employees (n=5). . Codes were identified and themes were developed through thematic interpretive analysis. Results on the nature of conflict revealed that conflict was characterised by two main forms. Vertical conflict and horizontal conflict which were generally non-confrontational. Eight themes emerged under sources of conflict and these included political interests, tribalism delayed salaries, overstaying in position of power by managers and lack of dialogue between managers and subordinate employees. On factors perpetuating the persistence of conflict, the study revealed absence of proper space for dialogue, insufficient education among employees, jealousy and intimidation. The study further revealed strategies needed for resolving destructive conflict at the institution and these included capacity building of the counselling center, frequent open meetings aLastly, the findings revealed that organisational conflict at the institution was largely influenced by cultural, psychosocial and political factors. The study therefore recommends the need for human resource managers in organisations as well as labour policy makers to manage organisational conflict through enhanced transparency, improved communication and capacity building of counselling centers at institutions of higher learning.
The University of Zambia