Industrial Conflict as an Impediment to Personnel Management

Industrial Conflict as an Impediment to Personnel Management

Industrial Conflict – Much have be said and written about conflict and its effect I organizations; and also an inculpable part of people relating to one another.

Boulding K.P (1996) argues that conflict is a situation of competition in which the parties due aware of in compatibilities of potential future position and which each part wishes to occupy a position that is incompatible will the wishes of others that in conflict, potential destructive deranges may be developing underneath which may be threatening the very existence of the organization if they go unrecognized.

He concluded that the destruction consequences of conflict includes that it diverts attention from organizational goal attainment and creates resentment and anxiety among organization members which makes the organization unable to function properly. It also causes delays in organizational action and reduces efficiency and coordination and also can erode and destroy the bases for cooperation and team work among organization members.

Finally, recurrent and persistent conflict can cause a feeling of alienation, a loss of morale and other forms of discount which can make individual to with drae completely from the organization.

According to John Adma H. (1973) conflict is an inevitable part of people as a conflict free relationship is probably a sign that you really have no relationship.

It has also bee n said that where there is movement they is a friction and where there is a friction heat is produced. Certainly, many small groups involve movement, especially if their task is to solve and act on problems. It appears obviously that in such cases the heat referred to is the emotional heat that results four conflict.

Denstch (1969) says that conflict exist whenever incompatible actions or activities occur. An incompatible or action prevents, obstructs, interferes with, injures or in some way reduces the effectiveness of the other action. In compatible action may occur within a single person (intra-personal), a single group (intra-group) or between two or more groups, (inter-group).

He concluded that conflict way originate from a number of different sources including differences in information belief values interest or desires, a scarcity of some resources such as money, power, time, space or position. And finally from rivalries in which one person or group competes with another.

To the sources could be added the difficulty of the task the pressure to avoid failure, the relative importance of a group or individuals decisions and differences to be come irritated at the less skilled. This often lends to reciprocal irritation. Members may be in compatible because of their differences or because of their similarities such as in the need to achieve or dominates others.

Tannenbanm and Schmidt (1972) Remarks, that are frequent source of conflict is the leadership struggle between superior subordinate in decision making. They argue that the leader has to be flexible enough to modify his/her decision making style to fit the follower ship of the group if organizational goals and objective must be attained.



In an industry, there are instances where individuals find themselves in conflict with groups. This may arise as a result of the individual violating group worms and values. Another instance is where subordinates to one boss collecting disagree with a course of action the boss wants to take.

A conflict will exit because the subordinates are blocking the achievement of the boss e.g. the innate desire can exercise formal authority to suppress this types since subordinates often find a way of retaliating.


This involves conflict between groups of people irrespective of group size. Included in this type of conflict is inter-department conflict within an industry, and even conflict between group e.g. labour and management conflict.


Line-staff conflict is a form of conflict primarily horizontal between staff and line managers at or near the same level. It can also be a type of inter-department conflict since the staff department has identity and separated to it point of view. Line-staff conflict is essentially a dash of domains or areas of activity, expertise and authority. New specialist threatens older specialists and attempts to edge them out e.g “growing development” attempts to supercede “employee training.

The problem is intensified if the new specialist arises as a result of hierarchical prerogatives to assign duties and create jobs rather   than from the social advance of specialization. In addition, ordinary specialization expectation upsets expectation and interest in particular functions. By giving a function to every one who can claim it, specialization brings low and high status person into an interdependent relationship there by violating the status expectation of the later.


Industrial role consist of sets of expected behaviours that apply to each industrial worker or member. Some role behaviour are formally prescribed by job descriptions, delegations, assignment manual etc. These are derived from tasks missions or instructions. Others are created within the informal activities in which the industry engages. Both formal and informal roles allow individuals considerable discretion in carrying them out.

Role conflict therefore occurs when the individual must assure various roles covering different situations that are inconsistent with one or more other roles. E.g foreman is both a boss and a subordinate. His roles are strikingly different and in certain are Constance they could be conflict as the foreman faces them .


These are conflict that arise as a result of demands for fresh collective agreements or renewals or inclusion of new items, e.g when workers and management fail to reach at agreement, as working conditions, then conflict of interest has arisen. It arise because wages for instances, are cost to the management where they are income to the workers. These conflict are radical or resolved by striking a balance between them by considering the effort of workers while achieving organizational goal and objectives of improved profit growth and stability.


These are dispute over right which concern on the alleged misapplication or misinterpretation of certain provisions laid down in the contract laws or procedures, for example management may introduce work techniques and technology that have not discussed.


The varieties of conflict in labour management relations are varied and strike is the most common form of expressing them, and there are many kinds of strike.

Conflict between labour and management are expressions made in form of peaceful bargaining debates, political actions, restrictions of out-put sabotage, absenteeism and personal turnover.

The effects therefore of labour management conflict in ANAMMCO are as follows:


In situation of conflict where labour and management are in disagreement, the production efficiency of the industry is reduced resulting to poor out put. More so, when the conflict is expressed in the of strike, employees cease to work or deliberately work at less than usual speed with less than usual efficiency, sabotage management efforts to attain organizational goal , thus creating organizational cessation of work or deliberately working at less speed forces the organization to perform or produce bellows capacity which results to loss of capital for the organization and defects organizational goal of improved profit, growth and stability.


When production is not taking place, human and material resources lie wasting or idle. This is a cost to the organization, because after a strike for instance, when employees contribute nothing to production, they are still paid their salaries while some materials meant for immediate use and not used are condemned and some of the machines will have to be serviced in order that they function.


This relates to the numbers of persons entering and leaving the employment of an organization. This issue of personnel turnover creates a bad image for the organization or company involved before the public. The organization will than be seen as are that does not care about the well being of its employees,   otherwise, why the entering today and leaving of the organizations employ the next moment, or the failing of alienation, boss of morale and discontent which can make an individual to with draw from the organization.


Psychologists for sometime have studied conflict within person, his incompatible desires, the resulting frustrations and responses to such frustrations.

However, we are solely concerned with conflict between persons and within a firm and also between different units in the firm. We should be aware that individuals may have divergent motives and systems they would want to adopt in the cause of their official or even private assignment. A person method in his duties may not likely suit another and where this occurs, conflict is bound to come up.

In the following analysis, the researcher presents some sources or causes of conflict in industries these include.


People see the world differently as a result of different experience of life. The different views of life can be a major sources of conflict in an industry because one’s judgment of issues flows from his own understanding.

In addition to difference in perception in perception is orientation which Iwobi (1992) said is serious set back to personnel management. He sited an example with a person who has practical and instinctive sense of what is right, wants prompt positive action which he behavior has scientific truth/prove and another person believes has want things done administratively with its attendant bureaucratic delays.


These are related to union solidarity, trade union jurisdiction, to demarcation of functions in terms of apportionment of work, recruitment of labour, representation of workers in the settlement of working conditions, union leadership and non-recognition of the union and refusal of management to bargain with union.


Also added to the above mentioned is the difference in qualifications. This is brought about when a person with a higher qualification in a job is made subordinate to another person with a lower qualification may claim he has proof in so many years in his job and therefore has attained god degree of experience. In this case should we for go the struggle for knowledge in school at the expense of struggling for life in an office only to claim that long stay in the office should be an advantage over acquisition of certificate?

This man who spent years acquiring knowledge in   school will feel bitter if being asked to serve under a person without a certificate.


In the Nigerian system, the issue of God fatherism is also a problem of personnel management. This is brought when a party is favoured because the chief executive or somebody at the top of the department is a brother, brother-in-law or an old friend. Realistically, this favoured party may not even be better qualified than the other workers.

Today for instance, we hear of ghost workers in many so many department. These are people who are paid salaries every month for doing nothing. It is so possible because the man at the helm of affairs is related in one way or the other to the is people and this is a sources of conflict between those working and earning their pay and those not working and also receiving.


Lack of open and honest communication between parties are a common cause of industries conflict.

Gay and Stake (1980) said, both the inter depending and differentiation of work activities demand that communication between individuals and groups be effective and at the broadcast level.


A common cause of conflict in an industry is the lack of agreement on who should do what. For instance, a company’s general manager may assure that the chief accountant job was to establish accurate records to compare actual expenses with the budget and to point out deviations to all executives directly concerned. The accountant himself though that he should press executive to avoid budget overviews and should report only unresolved activities to the general manager, while a newly appointed operations research director may think that the account task is only to maintain accounting records and make accounting information available on request from other executives. All these confusion are due to misunderstanding of role function.


One feature of industrial life is that resources are finite. Even the most successful companies have found that there are limitations and in which case they must accomplish. With this realization, groups and individuals see that there will be times when they have to struggle/fight for what they want.

For instance, this problem is made manifest when the annual budget is being prepared. Each typically submits a request based on its knowledge of needs, during the next fiscal year and top management adjusts the requests based on its knowledge of the total industrial needs.

The requests by some heads of department are art down because of limitation resources available to the industry. Some of these heads of department may star asking why management should act down their demands and not a result of this.


This is a situation where industrial units have to work together. In the cause this working together, workers in unit “A” for instance expects to have equal allocation of resources with those in “B” during allocation of finance in the budget. In the course of this allocation if unit “B” is forward as against unit “A” might consider slowing work pace as retaliation.


The existence of groups in an industry performing different functions could be a source of conflict. This is because, as a group becomes familiar with how they perform their own job, they may turn inwards and become uninterested in the following:

–        How their work fits in with other groups

–        The importance of other groups work.

These differentiation of work activities leads to goal incompatibility. For instance production goals may be have a long production runs with flew changes in product and production styles, because these allows production facilities to operate at peak efficiency.

Marketing goals on the other hand may be to give customers what they want and when they want it. This may lead to rush orders, special orders and other demands conflicting with production goals.


Disputes have become too complex in industrial management. For any conflict whether internal, external constructive in its original states, tends to be destructive if it is prolonged.

When in conflict, reactions are bound to occur, for people involved suspect each others intention and interprets every others action in way that will suit his course at this stage, information is with held and even distorted as parties involved engage in sabotaging the other efforts, al aiming to emerge winners.

Behavioral scientist have for years written about conflict and how unhealthy it is to the growth of an industry and have also sought ways of minimizing it. Primary attention was paid on industrial attitudes and interpersonal relationship. Actually conflict is such a pervasive aspect of organized action that a manager has to consider it in all phases of management has to consider it in all phases of management-planning, organizing, controlling, and coordinating group effort.

At this point of our analysis we are selecting out for emphasis some of the ways in which managers of industries can use to reduce or eliminate conflict. Though conflict may be entirely eliminated, but irregular conflict that threaten the welfare of a group or industry which cannot be avoided must be accepted but with awareness of it cost as well as its benefits to the industry.

In conflict situation, the parties to it have several alternatives and discussed here under are just some of them.


In this system, an outsider or mediator will intervene, hear the basis of the conflict and proffer a judgment. In arbitration, parties agree to aside the decision reached by the arbitrator or arbitration panel. A mediator here, tries to use persuasions to bring the parties in to a voluntary agreement. In some circumstances, the conflict is settled by a co-ordinating manager who is exercising his leadershi function.

Blake (1964) also cited other fast way says of resolving conflict, which he said is through compromise, bargaining and splitting difference. These could be compared to the arbitration or mediation methods of resolving conflict, in this way the conflict becomes resolved when the rival parties decide that they have obtained much advantage and can now give in to the cost they are willing to bear.


Porate (1973) suggested that setting up role expectation in such a way as to minimize or reduce conflict is necessary as this enable each member of the industry to know his limits and expectations, what to do, when and where to do it will all be identified. Mrs. V.D Nnorom a senior manager in ANAMMCO also shared this view of Porate when she said that role function should be decurly stated and defined so that the roles of who is responsible for what could be determined. She conducted that it would help to reduce or avoid duplication of functions.

Mc Far land (1961) state, setting up a role expectation reduces industrial conflict. According to him, industries using participative management emphasizing leadership development tend to minimize role conflict.


In this type of conflict resolution, the person       involved considers the impossibility of winning in the conflict and generally feeds that conflict is personally a punishing experience. In this way he/she avoid taking sides in disagreement, even where his interest is affected by the outcome, and feels little or no commitment to decision reached through conflict.

In the contrary the case of labour management conflict in which bargaining is necessary and often a dispute setting method are imposed, the runaway system can hardly work because management will not want labour to win totally and labour will also not want management to win totally. In other words, run away is not a satisfactory alternative if fairness is to prevail. If fairness and equity is neglected and a situation of win-less emerges, that is where a party wins at the expense of the other party the conflict is not resolved.


In this case conflicting issues are not approached with confrontation. Those involved in a conflict would resign from pushing for demands and accept whatever conditions given, provided there is peace. To them there is no reason why they should be conflict which is often due to or occurs because some one’s ego or interest is affected.

People who adopt this approach in resolving conflict yield to either way: win or loss rather than prolong the conflict.


According to Onyia (1976) the employment of a qualified person to head a department or industry is one sure way of eliminating inter personal conflict in an industry. He stated further that it is a loss and waste of industrial resources for the industry to install incapable managers especially in sensitive positions. For instance, accusations of financial mismanagement against some managers resulting a times to non-payment of salaries could lead to conflict between labour and management, this is as a result of the wrong person being at a managerial position.


The researcher has considered conflict and it effects on industries and its workforce. Conflict occurs where there is a clash between the goal and objective of a n individual or group and the goal and objectives of a another group or individual.

Boulding K.P (1996) argues that in conflict potentially d4estructive cleavage may be developing underneath which may threatening the very existence of the organization if they go unrecognized.

He went further by identifying some destructive consequences of conflict as:

  1. It diverts attention from organizational goal and creates resentment and anxiety among organizations members which the organization unable to function properly.
  2. It causes delays in organizational action, reduces efficiency and coordination.

iii.      It erodes and destroys the based of corporation and team work among organizations members.

  1. Recurrent and persistent conflict can cause a feeling of alieviation, a loss of morale and other forms of discontent which may/can make individual to with draw completely from the organization.

The researcher also examined conflict in its different phases, forms or types within an industry. He also give an indept analysis of different sources of conflict and finally states and explained the different conflict resolution techniques of an industry.

According to Deustch (1969) conflict exist whenever in compatible actions occur. These incompatible actions prevents obstructs or in some way reduces the effect effectiveness of the other action. These incompatible action (conflict) may occur within a single person (intra-personal) a single group (intra-group) or between two or more groups (intra-groups).

He also stated that conflict may originate from a number of different sources such as differences in information beliefs values interest desire; scarcity some resources such as money, power, time, space and position. It can also originated from rivalry in which one person or group compete with another. To these could also be added the difficulty of the task, pressure to avoid failure and the need to achieve and dominate others.

Also Tonnebamm and Schmidt (1972) remarks that one source of conflict is the leadership struggle between superior and subordinate in decision making. They argued that the leader has to be flexible enough to modify his/her decision making style to fit the follower ship of the group, if organizational goals and objectives must be attained.

This article was extracted from a Project Research Work Topic




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One Comment on “Industrial Conflict as an Impediment to Personnel Management”

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