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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

Defined simply, communication is the exchange of ideas between people or groups of people to create understanding. Human beings are social, and so through communication, they are in a position to share ideas. Communication, according to Mensah (2010) is a process of sharing ideas. It also entails sharing messages and information with other people in a given time and place (Mensah 2010). But for communication to be said to have taken place, there is the exchange of shared meaning which occurs between two or more parties and feedback is obtained. The interaction between individuals or groups is however not linear as it can be interfered with by noise and the disposition of the person(s) involved among other things. Communication is not just giving of information, but it is also giving of information that can

be understood and receiving and understanding the message (Mensah, 2010).  Communication, he adds, is a means by which thoughts are transmitted from one person to another. 

On the other hand, conflict is simply defined as the clash that results when individuals disagree because of incompatible ideas or when individuals or groups of people act against others’ expectations. Spaho (2013) says that in an organization, conflict occurs when people engage in activities that are discordant to those of their colleagues in their circle of influence.

He however observes that conflict cannot be avoided as it is a fact of human existence and if people can understand it and its effects on the effectiveness of work; conflict can be made helpful and be used to obtain better results. To manage conflict in an organization, Spaho (2013) recommends that all levels of management have a responsibility for good communication and conflict management in an organisation as many factors prevent employees from direct and open communication, whose consequence is an increased risk of conflict situations.  It would be safe to thus say that an unresolved conflict in the workplace can among others, negatively affect employee performance and productivity, make employees suspicious of each other as well as result in poor teamwork. For this reason then, it becomes important for managers to use direct communication on time so as to mitigate conflict or minimize its impacts (Spaho 2013).

From the above discussion, it is clear that individuals and groups of people share meanings through the communication process. They can do so verbally or non-verbally through writing, signs, and symbols, tone, gestures, among others and through it, enhance cooperation. But it is important to note that communication has been a source of conflict where there has been misunderstanding and thus a clash of ideas. This assertion is supported by Krauss and Morsella, (2000), who say that even when sent messages and those received are similar, the meaning derived may significantly be different from the initial message.  This is because the listener and the speaker could be using codes that are slightly different and may thus result in misunderstanding (Krauss and Morsella 2000).

In a school setting, there may be a problem in communication between Academic Staff and school administrations leading to misunderstanding and thus conflict which may result in issues like the sabotage of school programs and projects by Academic Staff. In adverse situations, staff may be transferred and are known to have been transferred and or punished for conflict with the administrators, which may have arisen from poor communication.  Although communication alone may not solve a conflict, Krauss and Morsella (2000) assert that the product of communication is the creation of understanding.  And though good communication is not an assurance of the resolution of conflict, poor communication in a great way increases the likelihood that conflict will happen and be intensified (Krauss and Morssella 2000).

Studies and reports abound concerning the causes of students’ unrest in educational institutions, some of the reasons being conflict between the learners and teachers. For example, Cheloti et al (2014) say exams, diet and bullying, high handedness of managements, lack of communication between students and managements, poor facilities, substance abuse are among causes of unrest among secondary school students. Autocracy by school

administrations which make it difficult for students to express their opinions is also blamed to cause unrest among students in Nigerian schools, according to Oduor (2016) in The Standard article: Mistrust Causing Unrest in Nigerian Schools, New Study Says

Reports and studies that focus on teachers however are majorly between teachers and their employers and hardly about their (teachers’) relationships with the administration in their schools. And because people working together are bound to collide, conflict simmering between Academic Staff and school administrators could possibly spill over to the students thus causing unrest yet it is hardly communicated to the outside world. But if communication between the Academic Staff and school administrators is effectively carried out, it has potential to mitigate conflict between them, the administrators, and teachers, and by extension, the students.

1.2 Problem Statement

Communication links individuals, groups, societies and nations but people do not always do well in communication and thus end up with misunderstandings or breakdown in relationships (Wanjama et al 2010). In a school situation, poor communication between Academic Staff and the administration can for example lead to conflict, staff sabotaging initiatives by the administration or administrators taking unnecessary disciplinary measures or de-motivation among staff or the administrators

According to Tara and O’Hara (2014), an individual’s success at work is greatly determined by one’s social awareness skills, his or her emotional intelligence and communication which includes one’s ability to motivate and influence others, to empathize and develop relationships, to give honest feedback sensitively, to monitor self-behavior, read interpersonal situations and organizational politics and to handle one’s own emotions and those of others. This applies in the context of schools as Academic Staff, students and other members of staff interact with each other and with the administration. As such, there is the need for effective communication to achieve their set objectives which are majorly to do with nurturing a responsible citizen through curricular and co-curricular activities. This is because, communication helps pass instructions and get feedback and to create common understanding with staff. This can be achieved through oral communication, internal memos, letters, staff meetings, telephone calls, mass SMSs and emails which are used in a modern school or educational setting.

 There may however be a problem in communication between Academic Staff and school administrations leading to conflict which may result in issues like the sabotage of school programs and projects by Academic Staff and can spill over to students leading to students’ indiscipline and poor performance. 

In adverse situations, staff may be transferred and or punished for conflict with the administrators, which may have arisen from poor communication. And though good communication cannot promise the resolution of conflict, poor communication in a great way increases the likelihood that conflict will arise and be intensified (Krauss and Morsella 2000).

Reports concerning the causes of students’ unrest in educational institutions abound, some of the reasons being conflict between the learners and teachers. Those that focus on teachers however are majorly between teachers and their employers and hardly about their (teachers’) relationships with the administration in their schools. But if communication between the Academic Staff and school administrators is effectively carried out, it has potential to mitigate conflict in schools.

By this study, the researcher sought to establish the effectiveness of communication in conflict resolution between administration and Academic Staff in public secondary schools in

Gatanga Sub-County of Murang’a County, Nigeria. This was because there seemed to be limited literature focusing on educational institutions and in particular focusing on the situation in Nigeria. It was also not possible for the researcher to study the entire education sector in Nigeria.

1.3 Objectives

The study was guided by the following research objectives

1.3.1 General Objective

The general objective of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of communication in conflict resolution between administration and Academic Staff in Lagos State University.

1.3.2 Specific Objectives

1.      To investigate the sources of conflict between Academic Staff and administration in Lagos State University.

2.      To explore how conflict between Academic Staff and administration is communicated in Lagos State University.

3.      To determine the effect of using communication to address conflict between Academic Staff and management in Lagos State University.

4.      To establish the challenges of using communication to address conflict between teachers and administration in Lagos State University.

1.3.3 Research Questions

The study sought to answer the following research questions:

1.      What are the sources of conflict between Academic Staff and administration in Lagos State University?

2.      How is conflict between Academic Staff and administration communicated in Lagos State University?

3.      What is the effect of using communication to address conflict between Academic Staff and administration in Lagos State University?

4.      What are the challenges of using communication to address conflict between teachers and administration in Lagos State University?

1.4 Significance of the Study

Communication enhances understanding between people or groups of people when they share their thoughts and ideas.  According to Wanjama, et al (2010), communication links individuals, groups, societies and nations. People however do not always do well in communication and thus end up with misunderstandings or broken relationships.

In a school situation, poor communication between Academic Staff and the administration can for example lead to conflict, staff sabotaging initiatives by the administration or administrators taking unnecessary disciplinary measures or de-motivation among staff or the administrators. Most conflicts in schools, according to Wanjama et al (2010), are rooted in poor communication and thus the need for individuals to acquire effective communication. This study thus aimed at helping teachers and school administrators to acknowledge the importance of communicating effectively to create understanding and mitigate conflict in their quest to achieve their set goals.

From the findings, the study helped to establish the place of communication in schools and would in turn help school administrators to employ communication strategies that help build good relationships with teachers so as to mitigate conflict and realize their schools’ goals as a team. It is also of help to teachers to appreciate the importance of effective communication in achieving organizational goals as the way people communicate impacts on their lives either positively or negatively. In other words, it enlightens them on effective ways of resolving conflict through communication. For example ensuring that accepted channels of communication are used, acknowledging individual’s values and clarity of messages, a clear chain of command, among others can help foster effective communication and conflict resolution. It is in addition of benefit to stakeholders in the education sector to embrace effective communication so as to achieve their set objectives with minimal conflict.

1.5 Scope and Limitations

The study aims at examining the effect of organizational communication and conflict management with particular reference to Lagos State University, Lagos State.  The study will be restricted to only teachers (Lecturer) and management of the University.


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