Crisis Management in the Public Sector
Crisis Management in the Public Sector – The Nigerian society is under-going a rapid transition in addition to the inevitable and unusually gradual transformation processes that affect all social systems, the institutions economic, political, legal etc. of the Nigerian society, are being deliberately and hurriedly reformed to avoid the pitfalls of the past new decision programes are established and new strategic adopted all in an effort to achieve a social order.
One of the on-going strategies to do this is the reform introduced into the public sector by the office of the chief of General Staff (CGS) making the local government an effective third tier of the government. Usually, such reforms tend to point to one form of organizational crisis or another crisis were refers to an usual situation the outcome of which is uncertain or capable of generating conflict. With regards to the Nigerian public sector, it arises out of the inherent disposition of the system to distort the political and administrative processes by its decisions or operations. It also arises from situational uncertainties and inadequacies of an organization.
There could be power tussle, inadequate funds or time to execute all envisaged projects. Psychological disorientation of the populace / employee and its rejection of the reform. There could be also either a lack of understanding of the full implication of established programmes or a deliberate clinging to politics established primarily to protect institutionalized class relations. Any such crisis is capable of distorting the achievement of the desired objectives of the public sector. Part of the process of ensuring success in the achievement of goals of these public sector organization is to understand the dynamics of such crisis and apply appropriate remedies, provided that thee change motivators are genuine and determined.
It is a known fact that the understanding of the dynamics of crisis is lacking in the public sector of the Nigerian economy it is equally true that the Chief Executive and administrators in the public sector are involved in the management of crisis rather than in crisis management. From the foregoing, it is seen that there is no effective tool for crisis management in the Nigerian public sector because of its large size. It is pertinent that an organization within this sector is used as a reference point in order to limit the wideness of this study. The Enugu North Local Government (ENLG) has been chosen for proper representation of the public sector organization in the economy.
In this thesis, we intend to identify a few crisis situation that could hit ENLG and through the research, rank them in the order of their probability of occurring. I will then use the crisis with the highest probability, to develop a crisis management tool for organizations within the public sector of the Nigerian economy.
Background of Study
The local’s government has been characterized by instability and discontinuity emanating from one crisis situation or the other. These crisis are often prompted by the activity of the federal government and other environmental factors which usually lead to complete dissolution and or take over of functions of the management group by government appointed administrators. In order words, the LG. of this country have always been subjected to the whims and caprices of the federal government. They were not allowed to make their own decisions as to contributing to the Nigerian economy or either way they give enough financial assistance (authority) to be accountable to the devise inherent is such local government.
The various government reforms are aimed at stabilizing and rationalizing local government organization or corporations. It is quite unfortunate however that the chosen implementation strategies seen to have resulted in unanticipated policy outcomes. As a matter of fact it is clear to all that the aims of establishing the local government in Nigeria which is to be an effective third tier of the government has not been realized. It is believed that this is mainly due to the inability of the local government to effectively manage the forms of crisis that afflicted it since their inception. It is against this background that crisis management in local government is being investigated.
Every crisis has four (4) main stages and allowing each crisis to pass through the four states has been the bare of effective local government in Nigeria.
The four stages of crisis include:
• Prodromal stage (early warning stage )
• Acute stage
• Chronic stages
• Resolution stages
Crisis management is aimed at avoiding the acute and chronic stages of crisis. A crisis is said to be effectively managed if it moves from prodromal to resolution stage we are aware that this has not been the case in the local government their crisis have been known to have gone through the four stages with inevitable consequences.
If we take a look at the second republic and early part of the aborted their republic (1988-1989) there were various crisis among which were:
• Financial crisis
• Power crisis
• Manpower crisis
• Political crisis
The entire above crisis, we unfortunately allowed to go through the four stages and this had their unpleasant effects on the local government in the country. For example, the Enugu North Local Government administration was engulfed by crisis during the year 1988 and 1989. this crisis went through the full cycle which cumulated in the intervention of both the state and federal government leading to the suspension of its popularly elected chairman.
Another example can be cited from the demonstration carried out by members of the National union of local government (NULGE) Enugu North local government branch on March 9th ’94 protesting for the non-payment of salaries for 6 months.
Furthermore, the strike action carried out by the National Union of Teacher (NUT) calling for the collection of their annual subventions directly from the federal government and not from the local government because they believe that this cannot be effectively carried out by them. It can be seen that after about two (2) decades of its establishment the local government cannot manage available resources and avoid conflict or crisis from happening.
Statement Of The Problem
It is quite unfortunate that going through literature very little work has been done on how best to handle crisis by scholars and practitioners. In view of these identified lapses, an inquiry into crisis management in the local government has become imperative. It is hoped that this inquiry would stimulate new dimension and direction for crisis management whose overall objective could be the search for an effective and efficient local government administration. In Nigeria, with specific focus on evolving new strategies for building a stable base for local government organization in the country.
The basic research questions for this work are:
• How can we change from crisis management to the management of crisis?
• How do employee or workers perceive crisis?
• What factors influence management attitude to crisis?
• What role does the federal and state government play in local government crisis?
This study will attempt to provide appropriate answers / solution to these questions which are regarded as key variables in the local government administration in Nigeria, such answers is hoped would assist in providing insights into the kind of measures to be adopted to ensure effective and efficient crisis management in Nigeria.
Objective Of Study
The objective of this research would include:
(a) To examine the existing methods of handling crisis in Enugu North Local government and ascertain how corporations are performing within the bonds of available manpower in the local government
(b) To attempt to appraise the existing and potential manpower for co-operations in local government administration with a view to explaining the extent of their involvement.
Significance Of Study
The significance of this study work is aimed at developing an effective crisis management tools and thus creating a relatively stable environment becomes clear. In order to make reasonable progress towards achieving the purposes for their creation, the public sector organization requires a relatively stable environment and an effective crisis management tool which is what this study is all about.
Scope And Limitation Of The Study
The study touches on various forms of crisis that had characterized the public sector organizations in the country.
This using the Enugu North Local Government (ENLG). As a case study, an attempt is made to identify possible crisis that could effect the public sector organizations, their effect and probability of occurring based on the findings, the study attempts to develop crisis management for use in organizations in both public and private sectors.
It is sine-qua-non to mention were that in the course of the preliminary library research, it is discovered that very few up to date materials / literature on the public sector administration in the local government could be found. This is more so in finding documents that dealt with crisis management as it affects public corporation and local government.
Definition Of Terms
In the course of this work: certain key concept were met along the line which may be interpreted differently for the purpose of this study therefore the following operational definitions are given to these concept thus:
This is an unusual situation in an organization or corporation the outcome of which is uncertain or capable of generating conflict.
This is government at the local level exercised through a representative council, established by law to provide / exercise specific power within defined areas.
This is the part of a nations economy which is controlled mainly by the government
Any measure that plans in advance for a crisis (or turning point), any measure that removes the risk and uncertainty from a given situation and thereby allows one to be more in from of crisis management.
The process of providing inhabitants of the rural area with basic infrastructure and amenities, which could enhance their standard of living.
Review on Related Literature
It is pertinent to note also that a few authors have written on local government administration in Nigeria. Fortunately, these authors have all in one way or the other emphasized instability in the local government system; even the local government reform stressed it. To us instability is a corollary of crisis. We shall then proceed to examine what these authors and the reforms had to say about instability and local government administration. Thereafter, we shall look at various seminar papers presented by experts on crisis management in various organizations and institutions.
Since Nigeria attained independence in 1960 from Britain, several attempts have been made to reorganize or reform the local government system in the country. One hallmark of such reforms proceeding that of 1976 was that each region or state carried out the reorganization its local government system in the way it deemed fit since local government because a regional subject under the 1951 Nigeria constitution. It was therefore not possible to talk of on single system of local government reform prevailing in the country.
The 1976 local government reform broke with the past practice by attempting to evolve for the country a uniform system of local government with minor variations. A major aim of their reform was to stabilize and rationalize government at the local level. In the guideline, federal government emphasizes that responsibilities should be clearly defined and that local government should have adequate financial resources to meet their obligations which are mainly to stimulate developments at the grass root .
According to Egonwam, although the 1976 local government reforms in Nigeria aimed at decentralizing more power to local bodies, the implementation of the reform, tended to foster centralization of power and authority. To him, this meant that the strategies of implementation chosen could be significantly responsible for centralization as they were influenced by both political and administrative processes lending to unanticipated policy outcome of creating ineffective local government with adequate functions, revenue skilled
Another area of instability in the public sector with reference to the local governments is its inadequate financial base. In Nigeria the 1979 constitution of the federal republic accepted local government as a third tier of government like in most countries of the world, local government in Nigeria have five (5) easily discernible sources of revenue open to them. These includes: grants, local tax rate or property tax, fees and charges and loans.
The 1990 federal government revenue allocation formula stipulates that local government are entitled to fifteen percent (15%) of revenue accruable to the federal government and another fifteen (15%) of the internally generated revenue of the state government.
Of course these are in addition to finance from traditional internal sources – local revenue. However, the amount internally generated by each of the local government councils is usually very small. These local government are therefore in a situation where they depend almost entirely on the federal and state governments for funds for the performance of their statutory functions.
In his book local government finance in Nigeria, Bello Imam contended that a “function of this paternalism is the financial uncertainty and instability of local government in the country”.
Finally, the local government must endeavor to live within their means because they are infra-sovereign political entities.
Enworom, writing on management of industrial crisis said “it may be necessary sometimes to try to incorporate cultural tradition into the management of industrial crisis rather than adopting the Bismarkian consent that is not the vote of the majority, but by iron and blood that difficult matters are decided” At one time, an ex-chancellor, supposed to be the father of the so called German economic miracle, declared “that the economy determines the fate of man”. Unionist could but agree, but argued that if the economy is man’s fate, it is man’s democratic right to participate directly in deciding his fate. This reminds us that participative management and good communication between employers and employees will definitely minimize conflicts and create a better forum for quick and timely grievance settlement. In summarizing his paper Enworom advised that prevention is better than cure. He maintained that “it is better to present grievances from arising than to solve them once they have arisen”. This advice from Enworom obviously advocates crisis management which is bone of this study rather than management of crisis.
Inyang Eteng, of the university of Port Harcourt writing on crisis management in Nigeria university raise the following thought provoking questions:
(i) Why does the crisis in Nigeria universities seem to defy solution?
(ii) Why is it that orgies of restriction, dismissals, forced retirements, harassments, detentions and campus massacres, security surveillance, etc all of which have been tried by the state and various governments in office; unable to resolve the crisis once and for all.
(iii) Why have the universities themselves failed to address the issue. With all the faculties of behavioural sciences available at their disposal?
(iv) Why in particular, does the nation seem completely brow-beaten by this crisis?
To him, Eteng opines that “answers to these questions is that the crisis has generally been misconstrued and ill defined, with the result that is wrong and inefficacious policies and programmes which compound the crisis have been formulated and implemented”. This answer brings us to the need for crisis capability audit in every organization.
In his paper presented to FRCN, Rex Ugorji says however for the crisis capability audit to be performed it should answer those questions relating to that organizations ability to deal with sudden disruption.
These questions will include:
(i) How well will it manage crisis if one arises?
(ii) To what extent can an organization detect crisis at the early stage?
(iii) To what degree will it benefit from a crisis after it has passed?
To achieve positive results as regards the questions above a crisis team becomes imperative. This team should be composed of people who are specially suited to getting things done. To Ugorji, they should frequently contact be in closed proximity and work well together (ie group cohesion). Each member should be prepared to forego his normal routine and outside interests during a crisis and all should be very well compensated.
Training of the crisis team is of paramount importance as raw-talent will not suffice. Since there are no formal training centres to teach these skill in the country, it will be necessary that each organization design its own programmes. If for nothing else, the team should be intimately familiar with the crisis.
Crisis periods in organization should not be a time to apportion blames to organizations members. It is time for self examination. In support of Ugorji’s view Ezeilo of university of Nigeria, Nsukka, in her paper on family crisis, says “It is also important to accept that each member of the family has contributed in one way or another to the crisis”. The step in any crisis situation therefore, is the awareness of such crisis, acceptance of the fact that the organization is in crisis and self examination by members of the organization.
Meaning Of Crisis
This is an unusual situation the outcome of which is uncertain or capable of generating conflict. It arises out of the inherent disposition of the system to distort the political and administrative processes by its decisions or operation. It is also arises from situational uncertainties and inadequacies of an organization. Crisis can also be referred to the time of difficulty, danger or anxiety about he future. It is a time where everything seems to reach its turning point.
An Overview Of Crisis Management
It is a fact that the understanding of the dynamics of crisis is lacking in the public sector of Nigeria economy. The Chief executives, legislators and administrator in the public sector are faced by numerous crisis, which arises out of inherent disposition of the system to distort the political and administrative processes by its decision or operation.
According to Emeka Opara, a lecture in psychology, University of Nigeria Nsukka has this to say and I quote “conflict is a dynamic process tht occurs when two or more people or parties believes that when each want is incompatible with that of the other party’s wants. Because crisis or conflict is the process rather than result it is intrinsically neither good nor bad. The value of conflict depends on whether the consequences are productive or destructive. If conflict can be functional or dysfunctional. Functional conflicts are characterized by problem solving innovation and creativity. Dysfunctional conflict on the other hand are characterized by bargaining, political and compromises.
It is clear that these is need for the development of an effective crisis management tool in every organization. This is exactly what I intend to do in this thesis for the organizations in the public sector using the Enugu North local government as my case study.
For this purpose I shall adopt the crisis management barometer developed by Rex Ugorji to forecast a potential crisis for the Enugu North Local Government Area (ENLG). The vertical axis of Rex Ugorj’s model represents the crisis impact value. This value will show us how damaging a crisis may be if there is no crisis intervention. The horizontal axis represent the probability factor which is normally expressed in parentages (%) of between 0 and 100 see appendix 1.
For illustrative purposes, a number of assumption has to be made. Assume a crisis for Enugu North Local Government, how likely is it that this just envisioned crisis for ENLG will ever happen? Is there a “slim chance” that it could happen. How about “once in a blue moon chance” or would we call odds “petty good”?
Let us take our envisioned crisis for the ENLG and ask ourselves the following five questions:
(1) If our crisis escalates in intensity how intense might it get for us? Here we score from 0-10 with 0 being lowest and 10 being highest.
(2) To what extent or low closely would the media and /or federal government scrutiny our crisis? Again rate the answer on a 10- point scale with 0 indicating no scrutiny at all and 10 standing for extreme scripting.
(3) To what extent would the crisis interfere with the normal operation of the local government? Score bet ween 0 (No interference) and 10 maximum interference the extent to which the crisis would interfere with the normal operation of the local government.
(4) Think about the extent to which the local government public image and how the personal reputation of the chief executive would be demanged in the event of the potential crisis. Please score from 0 (no damage) to 10 (severe damage).
(5) Finally, in the event of potential crisis, to what extent would the local government ability to generate revenue be damaged. Score as usual from 0 (no effect) to 10 (crippling effect). Based on your assessment of the extent to which the potential crisis would demange our bottom line.
Therefore we total our five scores (with a possible maximum of 50) and divide the sum by five (5) to arrive at crisis impact value (CIV) with the probability factor (PF). So on a scale of 0% (an absolute impossibility) to 100% dead certainty, we make an assumption – what is the probability that our crisis will occur? Then on the horizontal probability factor PF scale which intensifies the crisis impact scale at mid-point (see Fig 2.1), we plot our probability percentage. Using the inter-section of the two axes as the dividing line shall determine whether our potential crisis has a high or low crisis impact value, above or below the horizontal line. By referring to the crisis impact value (CIV) first, our potential crisis is now rated either.
• High / high
• High / low
• Low / high
• Low / low
Let us plot our CIV on the vertical axis from 0 to 10 and plot our probability on the horizontal scale from 0% (an absolute impossibility) to 100% and (a dead certainty). Each of the directional designation corresponds to a colour zone on a crisis barometer see fig 2.2 Appendix II.
– High / High – Red zone
– High / low – Amber zone
– Low / High – Grey zone
– Low / Low – Green zone
By plotting on both the vertical (CIV) scale and horizontal (PF) scale, we have forecasted with probability more accurate than ever before that the crisis bang will be and what the likelihood is that it ever will erupt. We even know what colour our crisis will be. If we find that the we have plotted our crisis into a danger zone such as the red zone, with a high CIV and High Pf, our task as crisis mangers is to search vigilantly for alternative ways to plot ourselves out of danger and into probability before the crisis strikes.
Finally, we shall now proceed to examine the possible crisis that can hit the Enugu North Government (ENLG) and with the result of this research, forecast a potential crisis for the local government.
Objective Of Crisis Management
Crisis management has numerous objectives of which the following are inclusive:
(i) To examine the existing methods of handling crisis in Enugu North Local Government.
(ii) To attempt to appraise the existing and potential manpower for co-operation in local government.
(iii) To explore workers attitude to local government administration with a view of explaining the extent of their involvement.
(iv) To ascertain how co-operation are performing within the bounds of available manpower in the local government.
(v) To bridge the communication gap between the higher, middle and lower classes of workers.
(vi) To examine the existing methods of handling crisis. This can be done through proper understanding between the higher and lower authority, whereby the grievances of both the junior and senior workers are to bled down for proper dialogue.
In the dialogue ensued, it will be expected that proper deliberation would be made regarding the matters or problems which brought about thee crisis. Most time these grievance are not giving the required attention as other matters affecting other sectors of the organization are being discussed instead of the matters at hand. Sometimes, even the increase of their package which is either not paid then at all and even when they decide to there is that lukewarm attitude towards the fulfillment of the promise. These grievances arise because most times the low income earners in the establishment are always faced with the following problems:
(a) Having problems meeting up with their financial obligation.
(b) When their interest is not adequately represented as there is a repented promise from their superiors to make their cases known and evenly expected but end up doing nothing
(c) Where decision on mass dismissal has been taken and a particular sector is affected mostly, they tend to feet that the decision was taken on biased basis.
(1) The workers should have a sound and enabling environment to work.
(2) Their interest should be adequately represented
(3) Where there is an extend effort by the workers to lift up the firm, the contribution of any group or individual should be recognized through the means of giving out incentives which is always periodical.
(4) To attempt to appraise the existing and potential manpower for corporation in the local government.
It is also advisable for management to carryout critical evaluation of each work as a means of knowing their actual performance and attitude towards work which would be used as a standard for assessing their work rate and subsequent promotion. There should be a sort of motivation for those whose work ability has contributed to the upliftment of the company’s capital. The potential manpower in the organization should be encouraged by way of:
(a) Sending them to various seminars organized for exchange of ideas in matter relating to their organization
(b) Sending them to workshop would expose and sharpen their skill for greater challenges in future which might be a critical period of depression that the company would ever face.
(c) The advice of these people should not be over looked as judgement is on expertise grounds.
(5) Exploring workers attitude
Crisis management has made it possible to explore workers attitude towards work. This is so because in most government establishment, workers tend not to take the work seriously because they always have that notion that whether they work or not, nobody sees them.
In their attitude to workers there is always a register that regulates the workers movement and when management intends to take any decision, they should consult the register and the default are either suspended or dismissed depending on the magnitude of their various offences.
(6) To ascertain how corporations are performing within the bounds of available manpower. These goes with such questions as:
(i) How many workers are in the organization
(ii) What the ratio is between the junior and senior staff
(iii) What is the work rate of these two groups and
(iv) What kind of incentive package is set for them.
For the first question, knowing the total number of workers employed is the most vital aspect to the organization to avoid frequent loitering of people who are supposedly workers in the organization but are infact ghost workers it creates a better understanding with the authority when they know who is who and what each persons duties are.
Secondly, knowing the ratio of the junior and senior staff would help the management of the organization to manage and harness the available manpower
The work rate of both the senior and junior staff is evaluated in a broader spectrum. This is so because in an organization like this, the output of each individual worker vary as some are hardworking which results to increase in output in terms of returns while some and relatively low either because of truancy or constant illness.
Finally, the kind of incentive package that is designed for the staff should be made known to them so that they will know what to look forward to.
When the turn of any workers who merits the packages reaches, he should not be denied whatever is obtainable. This is because in an organizational setting the growth and substance of the company depends solely on the motivating factor which urges workers to attain a certain heights.
(7) To bridge the communication gap between the higher, middle and lower classes of workers. It is always noticed in the hierarchy of common that there is too much bureaucratic administrative bottleneck in the execution of various jobs. It is noticed that crisis do arise when there has been two much delay in the decision affecting the company and most time too many things tend to go bad as the delay in decision could hinder some apparent result and the blame normally goes to the junior workers.
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This article was extracted from a Project Research Work Topic “CRISIS MANAGEMENT IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR ”