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Crises of different types occur between managements and students of tertiary institutions in Delta State, Nigeria. Communication is all embracing as far as crisis resolution is concerned. Communication is very vital to life and effective communication has the ability to resolve crises of all sorts amicably. This is why communication is seen as important aspect of crisis resolution between managements and students of tertiary institution. This is what motivated this study to assess communication as a tool for crisis resolution in selected tertiary institutions in Delta State, Nigeria. Social Judgment and Frustration Theories were used as the theoretical perspectives. Delta State has 15 institutions of higher learning with a total population of 77,600. Out of the 15 institutions, the multi-stage sampling technique was used to select 20 percent from the institutions, faculty/schools, departments and class level. As a result, Delta State University, Abraka, Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi-Uku and Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro were selected. Therefore, the total number of sampled students were 1,720.
The survey research design was adopted with questionnaire and interview as instruments of gathering quantitative and qualitative data respectively. Quantitative data were analyzed using parametric and non parametric method. The qualitative data on the other hand was analyzed using content analysis to report the interview responses. The study answered the five research questions and one hypothesis raised for the study. Some of the findings of the study included a very high level of information flow and usage between managements and students of tertiary institutions in Delta State. Some of the respondents 757 (56%) which are above average said that information flow and usage was very high. Also 679 (50.9) said that information flow regularly from management to students.
Findings also revealed that managements employed good communication strategies in resolving crises between them and the students. Majority of the respondents 911 (68.3) strongly agreed that managements employed communication strategies in the resolution of crises between them and students. This is in tandem with the data generated from the students which confirmed that the institutions’ managements employed different communication strategies in resolving crises between managements and students. Findings also revealed that the state of peace in any institution of higher learning are due to lack of effective information management between management and students.
It was concluded that communication is a very viable tool for the resolution of crisis, between managements and students of tertiary institution in Delta State. Therefore all tertiary institutions should always endevour to use appropriate and effective communication in resolving crisis between managements and students. The managements of tertiary institutions should envolve the use of communication rather than force. Communication strategies that are favourable to both the managements and the students should be used in resolving crisis between them.
Keywords: Communication, Crisis, Management, Institution, Resolution
1.1 Background to the Study
Communication is indispensable to human existence, it is central to all aspects of life, hence, it occupies a vital parts of our everyday living. Communication has the ability to change behaviour of aggrieved person from negative to positive. This is why it is regarded as a useful tool in crisis management between management and students of institutions of higher learning. There are different types of communication which mainly include intra-personal communication, inter-personal communication, group communication, extra-personal communication, public communication, traditional communication, cultural communication, international communication and mass communication.
The different types of communication can be used at various times for various purposes to manage and resolve crisis between the management and students of institutions of higher learning. At any point in time, the use of traditional, interpersonal and mass media (newspaper, magazine, radio, television and the internet), have been acknowledged by communication scholars such as Nwabueze (2014), (Daramola, 2003), Dike (1988) as playing crucial roles in providing information or messages that can shape or change people perceptions. Crisis has been defined as a struggle or contest between people with opposing needs, ideas, beliefs, values or goals ((Foundation Coalition, 2001)
Crisis management is the ability to put crisis under control or the handling of a crisis situation with the intention of achieving peaceful co-existence between the parties involved in the crisis. According to Olajide (2011), crisis management is the process of reducing the negative and disruptive capacity of crisis through communication. Communication plays a number of roles in crisis management such as helping to calm fray nerves, educating parties involved in crisis, establishing and interpreting meanings, information exchange, instrument for growth and development, social transformation during crisis, promote better teamwork, stimulating debate and sensitization of people amongst others. Crisis between management and students of Colleges of Education, Polytechnics and Universities in Nigeria is at alarming rate especially with government institutions of higher learning. Some of the crises in the institutions of higher learning are caused by a number of factors ranging from struggle for political participation, contest for access to resources, struggle for identity, welfare problem in the institutions, lack of respect for constituted authorities, etc. Crises between management and students occur on regular basis in institutions of higher learning in Delta State and this tend to disrupt academic activities in the institutions. For instance, in March 2016 a Higher National Diploma Student of the Delta State Polytechnic, Ogwashi-Uku was arrested by the Police due to cult related issue. Based on this, the Student Union Government in company of other students chased away the security men and locked the school gate as early as 6.30 a.m. It took the timely intervention of the Commissioner for Education and Senior Special Assistance to the Governor on Education for the gate to be opened.
The absence of communication or ineffective use of communication may result to a state of unrest in higher institutions of learning. Communication is the grease that keeps social relationship in motion or ongoing without or with minimal frictions. Once there is a breach or non-functionality of communication between management and students of higher institutions of learning, such may trigger crises or result to a state of unrest. Communication is very vital to crisis management and resolution in higher institutions of learning. Benard (1978) posits that in any exhaustive theory of organizations, communication occupies a central place because the structure, extensiveness and scope of every organization are almost entirely determined by the communication techniques employed.
Communication tools can be used to incite violence as well as carry messages that could help to prevent or manage unrest in higher institutions of learning. Recognizing the importance and potential of communication as instrument for crisis prevention, management, resolution and peace building field, The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has planned to launch a new grant program, on communication which is designed to support learning and improved practice in the area of crisis resolution. USIP is interested in exploring ways that communication can be used to support the creation of new horizontal and vertical communication to assist in improving crisis monitoring, management, resolution, community-based responses to crisis, and participatory peace building.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
This research is on the use of communication as a management tool for crisis resolution in selected tertiary institutions of learning in Delta State. Institutions of higher learning in Delta State experience crisis between management and students on regular basis despite the good roles of communication in crisis resolution. In 2011 the students of the Delta State University, Abraha went on rampage because of increase in school fees. The Student Union Government (SUG) who led the riot claimed that the students were not consulted before the increment. Similarly, in 2012, the students of the College of Education, Agbor, Delta State went on rampage due to increase in school fees. Also, in November, 2013, the students went on another riot because of blackout in the institution’s hostels for 9 months. In 2014, the students of the Delta State Polytechnic, Ogwashi-Uku went on rampage during the first semester’s examination. The rampage was caused due to the fact that one of the students was asked to stand-up during one of the papers because he was cheating. In addition, the staff and students were locked outside the gate in 2015 based on the fact that management arrested one of the students for cult related activity. Most of these crises disrupted academic calendars in one way or the other. These crises could have been prevented and better managed with the use of communication. This goes to show that the use of communication in the resolution of crisis in the institutions is not effective or out rightly neglected. There are also indications that the channels and strategies employed in the resolution of crises were in appropriate. As a result, the advantages that emanate from effective use of communication tools in the management and resolution of crisis between managements and students in tertiary institutions of learning are not attained by the institutions’ authorities. This therefore means that there could be lack of effective dissemination of information between management and students of institutions of higher learning which may invariably affect their cordial relationship on campus.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The general objective of the study was to determine the role of communication in the resolution of crises between managements and students of tertiary institutions of learning in Delta State. The specific objectives are to:
- determine the level of information flow and usage between managements and students of tertiary institutions in Delta State;
- ascertain the communication strategies that managements of Delta State institutions of higher learning employ in crises resolution between the managements and students;
- determine the level of communication usage in crisis resolution between managements and students of tertiary institutions in Delta State;
- determine the extent of usage of inter-personal channel of communication by managements in the resolution of crises between the managements and students in institutions of higher learning in Delta State and
- find out the effectiveness of information management on the relationship between managements and students of tertiary institutions in Delta State
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions guided the study
1. What is the level of information flow and usage between managements and students of institutions of higher learning in Delta State?
2. What are the communication strategies employed by managements in crisis resolution between managements and students of tertiary institutions in Delta State?
3. What is the level of communication usage in crisis resolution between managements and students of tertiary institutions in Delta State?
4. What is the extent of usage of inter-personal channel of communication in crisis resolution between managements and students in tertiary institutions of learning in Delta State?
5. How effective is information management on the relationship between managements and students of tertiary institutions in Delta State?
The following hypothesis was tested at 0.05
Ho1: There is no significant relationship between the level of information flow and effective relationship between managements and students in institutions of higher learning in Delta State.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study is geared towards creating the consciousness of the importance of communication for a peaceful co-existence between managements and students of tertiary institutions. The study would enable managements of higher institutions to determine communication strategies and approaches that can be used to ensure peace on campuses. Apart from higher institutions of learning, it would serve as essential tool for different organizations to know the importance of effective channels and process of communication in ensuring peace between organizations and workers. The study would also make management of higher institutions of learning to be conversant with the communication strategies to be employed between it and the students.
In summary, the study would provide a working guide to the management of every higher institution or the communication patterns between it and students as a panacea for peace on campuses.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study deals with the use of communication as a tool by management in resolving crisis in tertiary institutions of learning in Delta State. The work covers all the institutions of higher learning in Delta State. Meanwhile, the entire institutions of higher learning in Delta State are 15, namely: Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka, Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun (FUPRE), Western Niger Delta University, Oghara, Novena University, Ogume, Celilia and Micheal Ibru University, Agbara-Otor, Edwin Clark’s University, Kiagbodo, College of Education, Warri, College of Education Agbor, College of Physical and Health Education, Mosogar, College of Education (Technical), Asaba, College of Health Technology, Ofuoma, Ughelli, Delta State Polytechnic, Ogwashi-Uku (DSPG), Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro (DSPZ) and Delta State Polytechnic, Otefe-Oghara (DSPO). The time frame for the study is between June 2016 to March 2017.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
The following terms were defined in accordance to how they were used in the study:
1. Peace: A state of harmony, smooth and uninterrupted operation of laid down plan to maintain its academic calendars in higher institutions of learning.
2. Conflict or Crisis: Crisis is a dispute; an argument; a struggle; a fight, a serious divergent of opinions, wishes and anger that occur between managements and students of tertiary institutions of learning.
3. Communication: Communication is the exchange of information, ideas, figures between two or more persons. It is also the sharing of meanings between two or group of persons.
4. Crisis Resolution: This is settlement of dispute between two persons, groups or among communities or between communities in order to ensure peace and harmony.
5. Management Tools: These are those tools that management used in the process of maintaining cordial relationship between her and the students of higher institutions of learning.
6. Communication Strategy: This refers to communication plans of higher institutions. It is the communication plan that management of institutions of higher learning employ in dealing or relating with the students.
7. Tertiary Institutions: This refers to as third stage, third level and post secondary education.
8. Communication Channels: This refers to the way information flows within tertiary institutions between their managements and students and with other institutions. It is also a medium through which a message is transmitted to its intended audience.
9. Communication System: This refers to as a collection of institutions’ communication networks, transmissions etc within the institution.
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