ANALYSIS OF CONFLICT MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES BY ADMINISTRATORS OF UNIVERSITIES IN SOUTH WEST GEOPOLITICAL ZONE, NIGERIA

ABSTRACT

The study investigated conflict management strategies by university administrators in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria. The specific objectives of the study were to find out the areas of conflict in the universities; the frequency of occurrence; the sources of the conflict; the conflict management strategies adopted by the university administrators and the strategy that is most effectively used in managing conflict in the universities in the South West, Nigeria. The study investigated differences among school ownership on areas of conflict and conflict management strategies adopted by the universities administrators of the universities in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria. Eleven research questions were stated while six hypotheses were formulated and tested at0.05 level of significance. The study was hinged on the Creative-Contingency Model of conflict management propounded by Johnson and Johnson in 1994.

Descriptive study based on survey research design was employed. The population for this study consisted of 3,211 university administrators of the universities in the South West Geopolitical Zone of Nigeria. The sample comprised900 university administrators representing 28% from the universities (federal, state and private) in the six (6) states (Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ekiti and Ondo) in the South West Geopolitical Zone of Nigeria. The researcher developed an instrument titled: Conflict Management Strategies Questionnaire (COMSTAQ) which was used to collect the data on personal qualities and effectiveness of the universities administrators. The Split-Half reliability analysis was performed using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS version 21). The overall Split-Half alpha (α) for the scales are: 0.78 for areas of conflict, 0.82 for frequency of occurrence, 0.77 for sources of conflict, 0.86 for conflict management strategies and 0.74 for effective conflict management strategies.


The data collected after administration were analysed using frequency count, percentages (%), Means ( ), Standard Deviation (S.D) and rank-ordering while the hypotheses were tested using the Univariate Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) statistic and Sidak Multiple Comparison Post-Hoc test for the three independent sample means was done. The results showed that inter-personal conflicts were the major areas of conflict while conflicts among the students were the most frequent. Accommodating and avoiding were the most prominent and most effective strategies adopted by university administrators of the universities in the management of conflict in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria. It was recommended that effective interpersonal relationships between student and students, lecturers and lecturers, non-academic and non-academic staff, student and lecturer and students’ and non-academic staff should be encouraged through the use of the democratic management style and participative decision making among the aforementioned groups by the university management.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study
Conflict is an attendant feature of human interaction that cannot be eliminated, but managed. However, its proper management and transformation are essential for peace and progress in human society.  In organizations, conflict is regarded as the presence of discord that occurs when the goals, interests or values of different individuals or groups are incompatible or there is an attempt to frustrate individuals’ efforts to achieve their goals. Conflict is an inevitable part of organizational life since the goals of different stakeholders such as managers and staff are often incompatible (Paluku, 2013). Conflicts have both negative and positive outcomes to the individual employees and the organization at large. In social life, conflicts occur but family members, friends and relatives manage them. The same case applies to organizations, when conflicts arise; it needs to be resolved by management for the sake of the organizational growth, survival and to enhance performance (Paluku, 2013).
Akorede (2005) described conflict as a form of socialization. He stressed that people in organizations have both personal and role preferences about the organization’s actions and policies. However, conflict exists whenever it is impossible for parties involved to carry out their desired action. Hence, he is of the view that conflict is the tension that is experienced when a group of people feels that their needs or desires are likely to be denied. It is argued that it could mean strife, controversy, discord of action and antagonism. Thus, Adeyemi (2010) found out that in the Nigerian school system, conflict occurs from time to time. He then submitted that conflict is the art of coming into collision, clash or be in opposition with one another. He argued that conflict situation is one in which the parties involved are unable to iron out their differences in the early stages of the collision or clash.
There are five stages of conflict namely: latent stage, perceived stage, felt stage, manifest stage and conflict aftermath. The latent stage is the beginning stage of every conflict in which the factor that could become a cause of potential conflict exist.This exists in autonomy divergence of goals, roles, role conflict and the competition for scares resources. The perceived stage is a stage of conflict in which one party perceives the others to be likely to thwart or frustrate his or her goals. The felt stage is when the conflict is not only perceived but actually felt or recognized. For example, ‘A’ may be aware that he is in a serious argument with ‘B’ over some policy. But this may not make ‘A’ tense or anxious and it may not have no effect whatsoever on ‘As’ affection towards ‘B’. The manifest stage is when the two parties engage in behaviour which evokes response from each other. The most obvious of these responses are open aggression, apathy, sabotage, withdrawal and perfect disobedience to rules. The last stage is the conflict aftermath. The aftermath of a conflict may have positive or negative repercussion for the organization depending on how conflict is resolved. If the conflict is genuinely resolved, to the satisfaction of all participants, the basis for more cooperative relationship may be laid. On the other hand, if the conflict is merely suppressed but not resolved, the latent conditions of conflict may be aggravated and explode into a more serious conflict until they are rectified. This conflict episode is called conflict aftermath.
The nature and character of the university as an academic organization entails the achievement and maintenance of a harmonious environment conducive for the working together of various groups of staff and the management team as well as students for the attainment of pre-selected missions and objectives. However, in recent years, the industrial relations terrain in the Nigerian University system has been saturated with series of industrial conflicts with consequent adversities on the advancement of knowledge (Ndum & Okey, 2013). In the same vein, students’ crises seem to become more rampant in our tertiary institutions requiring the best techniques to manage them, hence, achieving the goals of the university education becomes gloomy.
Conflicts in the modern day organizations and universities in particular, are inevitable. The university as an organization has a structure that allows two or more units or groups to share functional boundaries in achieving its set objectives. In universities, peoplewith different background and orientation: students, lecturers and administrative staff - have to work harmoniously together. Hence, the organizational structure of the university system is such that staff and staff, students and students, and staff and students share functional boundaries of exchange of knowledge. The exchange of knowledge sometimes results in various areas of conflict. These areas of conflict as observed over the years, range from one or more conflicts between: academic staff and the government; students and students; non-teaching staff and the government; academic staff and university authority; non-teaching staff and university authority; school authority and host communities; students and the government; teaching staff and students on academic issues.
As noted by Amadi (2002) the areas of conflict come in three forms namely: intrapersonal, interpersonal and inter-group. Intrapersonal conflicts manifest in individuals such as students, administrators, academic staff, and non-administrators. It is a situation in which the individual concerned will be battling with self on issues concerning health, academics, feeding, making a decision, and financial problems. The second is interpersonal conflict which, in the context of the university, can occur between student and student, lecturer and lecturer, a lecturer and a non-academic staff, the vice chancellor and deputy vice chancellor. The last (inter-group conflict) refers to separate conflict between two or more groups in an organization. In a university for instance, the non-academic staff members may disagree with the academic staff, over disparity in salaries. This can engender non-academic staff versus academic staff conflict.
These areas of conflicts in universities can be measured in terms of their rate of occurrence. Discussing the rate of occurrence of various conflicts in universities, Fatile and Adejuwon (2011) indicated that while some conflicts occur always, some occur, sometimes, seldomly and rarely. For instance, interaction between students and students in hostels, lecture rooms, departmental halls, faculties, cafeteria and so on, may lead to the emergence of “daily-life conflict” in various locations on campus while on the other hand, students’ uprising or revolt against the university management over increase in feesmay be said to occur rarely since universities do not increase their tuition fees daily. Fatile and Adejuwon (2011) noted that areas of conflict can be traced to various sources and depend on the level of interaction and integration between the concerned parties.
The sources of conflict in universities are numerous and cover a range of factors. These factors as grouped by Fatile and Adejuwon (2011) include:environmental factors; sociological factors, cultural factors and communication factors.Gray and Stark (1984) identified six sources of conflict within the environmental context namely: limited resources, interdependent work activities, and differentiation of activities, communication problem, differences in perception, and the environment of the organization. Other environmental factors are individual differences, unclear authority structures, differences in attitudes, task symmetries and differences in time horizon. Sociological factors are those factors that are inherent in the social system that result in conflict, for instance the struggle for power even among students, the academic and non-academic staff in agitation for individual or group right often leads to this kind of struggle.
Cultural factors resulting to conflict often arise from differences in cultural perception, ethnicity, language, religion, and belief system of people. For instance, a lecturer from the Eastern part of Nigeria could feel marginalized in an institution that is predominantly dominated by Northerners. This may give rise to the impression that his language or ethnic group is just a minority and may not be represented in the institution. Communication gap is the last source of conflict that arises when there is no free flow of information between institutional leaders and the led. This will affect individuals’ or group’s involvement in social organization. For example: sudden increment in school fee without prior notice to students by the university management is apt to result in a protest.
Conflicts from the aforementioned sources cannot be completely eradicated but can be well-managed to avoid degeneration into violence. Since violence will not erupt without conflict as antecedents, one can assume that many of the conflicts in tertiary institutions and insecurity degenerated because their antecedents (causes) were not properly managed or that the conflicting parties did not explore the power of communication and conflict manager's personality in resolving the crises (Agbonna, Yusuf & Onifade, 2009). Hence, this shows that every dispute, strife disagreement, crisis and argument requires proper handling through management or conflict management.
Management and conflict management are two terms that go hand in hand. The former (management) is the coordination of all the resources of an organization(material, finance, time and human) through the process of planning, organizing, directing and controlling in order to attain organizational objectives. It is the guidance or direction of people towards organizational goals or objectives. It can also be seen as supervising, controlling and coordinating of activities to attain optimum results within the limits of organizational resources. From the foregoing, it is clear that conflict management simply refers to the coordination of all resources through the process of planning, organizing, directing and controlling in order to prevent, avoid or resolve conflict.
Conflict management has been identified as a critical technique for university leadership style. In the university system, the conflict management strategies adopted by universities administrators may be defined, in part as the extent to which academic units are successful in efforts to respond to organizational and environmental change, to resolve operational problems, to acquire needed resources, and to develop and implement strategies in competitive manner. Vice-Chancellors are expected to provide curricular leadership, support scholarship and services, hire and mentor new faculties, and assess students’ outcomes, faculty performance, and also avoid or reduce the occurrence of conflict.
In order to reduce the occurrence of conflict,universities administrators (Administration and Academic), often have to manage the day-to-day activities of all units in the university environment that are increasingly turbulent, uncertain and competitive.This is expected because the university management team is expected to respond to environmental pressures, align unit goal with the mission of the institutions, and co-ordinate interdependent activities related to the end purpose of the university, its members, and the organization increasingly under conditions of financial exigency.
Responsibilities for effective conflict management in the context of turbulent organization and external environment may be redefining the role of Vice-Chancellors’ leadership in ways that make the position increasingly unattractive. Vice-Chancellors are called upon to address a range of non-routine, poorly defined problems and may be expected to encounter some problems in discharge of their duties in relationships that may become more pronounced under conditions of task interdependence and asymmetric power distribution. Conflict management among other roles of Vice-Chancellors may produce the highest level of stress as they express high levels of role-related dissatisfaction, when questioned about responsibilities for dealing with problems of inter-faculty conflict and student management.
Vice-Chancellor and his management team depend on a spectrum of conflict management techniques and managerial alternatives as they respond to the demands of conflict-laden work environment. There is no shortage of proposed approaches for managing conflict in an organizational setting. The approaches employed are often portrayed on a continuum with flight (“I’m catching the first bus out of town!”) and fight (“Fire the trouble maker!”) at the extremes. Obviously neither extreme is satisfactory since a win-lose orientation to conflict is present, characterized by the fact that contesting parties view their interests to be mutually exclusive. Hence, parties to the conflict come to believe that the issue can be settled in only one of three ways: (1) a power struggle, (2) intervention by a third party who possesses some sort of power greater than either of them, or (3) fate (Kolawole, 2015). Clearly, an effective approach to conflict management commonly referred to as the contingency approach lies somewhere between these extremes.
This approach to conflict management is predicated upon the idea that diagnosis of the situation is necessary as basis of action. The contingency view is that there is no one best way of managing conflict under all conditions, but that there are optimal ways of managing it under certain conditions. An important aspect of conflict management, then, is to consider (a) alternative ways of managing conflict and (b) the kinds of situations in which each of these various alternatives might be expected to be the most effective. According to Nakatsugawa and Takai (2013), studies in the conflict management arena have generally proclaimed that the most effective strategy is a collaborative win-win strategy in which both parties in a conflict seek a constructive and mutually satisfying resolution. At the opposite end of the spectrum, however, is the avoidance strategy, in which individuals are passive, or reluctant about resolving the problem. Avoidance is considered to be a thought lose strategy, and has been regarded as the most ineffective way to deal with a conflict. From a Western individualistic perspective, avoidance is particularly considered detrimental because problems are put up on a shelf to be resolved later over time. However, from a collectivistic viewpoint, avoidance may serve to maintain a harmonious relationship, especially when the relationship is deemed important enough to justify making self-sacrifices.
Conflict management strategies refer to the internal mechanisms used by the various authorities in resolving conflict. Many scholars have identified different conflict management strategies being used in organizations. Adeyemi and Ademilua (2012) identified conflict management strategies to include forming structural changes, avoidance, compromise and smoothing. Conflict management strategies could also include suppression, smoothing, avoiding, compromise, third-party intervention, cooperation, democratic process, job rotation as well as confrontation. Other strategies identified were effective communication which they described as the best because it would make the group aware of the kind of communication which can lead to problem solving. Most effective management strategies of resolving conflict between professional administrators and academic in Nigerian universities are dialogue strategy, prevention strategy, mediation strategy, avoidance strategy, participatory decision making strategy, emergency strategy, use of ad-hoc committee and persuasion strategy.
Thomas and Kilmann (1976) noted that there are five (5) major conflict management strategies or effective conflict management strategies which any manager may resort to use in any given conflict situation. These strategies are: accommodating, avoiding, collaborating, competing and compromising. The first (accommodating) refers to conflict management style whereby a conflict manager choses to cooperate to a high degree with the warring parties in other to resolve a conflict. Using this conflict strategy of accommodating, usually requires the manager to do the bidding of the warring parties even when it is against his wish, objectives, and desired outcomes. The second (avoiding) requires that the manager resolves conflict by ignoring the request of the one or more warring parties involved in the conflict. The third strategy identified by Thomas and Kilmann (1976) is collaborating which is a conflict management style that requires the conflict manager to pair up with significant others that can assist to achieve both of their goals and the bidding of others without making either parties involved in the conflict “better off” or worse off”. The fourth and fifth strategies are competing and compromising. Competing is the 'win-lose' approach whereby a manager acts in a very assertive way to achieve his or her goals, without seeking to cooperate with others while compromising is the 'lose-lose' scenario whereby none of the parties involved in the conflict are really allowed to achieve what they want. According to Adeyemi and Ademilua (2012), the application of the five conflict management strategies depends on the areas and sources of conflict. They added that the areas of conflict and use of the five conflict management strategies in universitiesin Nigeria differ by school ownership
Basically, universities in Nigeria can be distinguished with respect to their ownership status. This is in recognition of Private-Public Partnership (PPP) at all levels of education by the federal government which therebyallows individuals, private organisations, ministries, among significant others, the right to establish, manage and fund universities; having met with the stipulated requirements by the National Universities Commission (NUC). Consequently, universities in Nigeria can be described along the pedestal of:  federal, state and private universities. Public universities are universities, established, funded and managed by the federal or State government while private universities are those established and managed by an individual, or a group of institutions coming under one management, organisation or ministry. For instance; Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife is a Federal University, Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye is a State University while Bowen University, Iwo (Missionary), Lead City University, Ibadan (Individual) are private universities.
One unique feature that distinguishes private universities from federal and state universities is the vision that births their establishment by their owners. For instance, the motto of one Samuel Adegboyega University, Ogwa of Edo State is “Knowledge, Service and Discipline” while that of Covenant University Ogun State and Bowen University, Osun State are “Raising New generation of Leaders” and “Excellence and Godliness”respectively. These mottosdo not only reflect knowledgeand discipline founded on godly doctrines but also explains the deep crave of the management team of the aforementioned private institutions towards raising disciplined and God-fearing leaders for the future. Adeyemi and Ademilua (2012) argued that their crave for raising disciplined leaders using godly doctrines does not only distinguish most private universities from public universities; but also often informs the decision of their management team on control and management of strife and hostility among staff and students, students and lecturers, teaching staff and non-teaching staff among significant other groups.
An important point must be borne in mind when attempting to deal effectively with organizational conflict, namely, that any one method will not apply to all situations or all personalities.  Given the various approaches to conflict management currently in existence, a major question becomes 'Which approach is best?" While it appears that the integrated (collaborative) procedure has the most to offer, each of the other approaches can also be effective in selected circumstances. 
In general, it can be concluded that conflict has been effectively managed when it no longer interferes with the ongoing activities of those involved.  Conflict management is therefore the process of removing cognitive barriers to agreement. Depending on the situation, conflict management techniques often focus on changing structure, changing process or both.  Sometimes structural modifications are not very creative, and the response to conflict is simply more rules and hardening of the role structure.  Such efforts can improve the situation outwardly but not without consequences, the hardening of the role structure which is an organization’s best defence against the inroads of individual irrationality gives equal protection against failing and against success.
However, the foregoing situations implied that conflict has become part and parcel of organizations including universities and all other levels of educational institutions. It also implies that in as much as these conflicts continue to manifest, researchers have continued to carry out survey and researches in multifarious dimensions with a view to exploring the best strategies for managing conflicts effectively in universities. It is, therefore, important to find out how best conflicts are managedby the university management team of federal, state, privateuniversities.A closer examination of public and private universities would reveal that both are ridden with crises, but how the university management is able to handle the situation would determine the resultant effect whether a full blown crises is imminent or not.

Statement of the Problem
            It has been observed that Nigeria universities have for decades been faced with so many crises ranging from conflict between academic staff and university administrators, students versus academic staff, students versus university administrators, and non-academic staff versus university management. Most of these crises had led to closure of universities for months at different times with academic activities put on hold.  However, there are allegations that some major consequences include the nearly perpetual disruption of academic calendar of universities, destruction of university, public and even private properties, loss of studentship, termination of the jobs of both academic and non-academic staff as fall outs of conflict, among others and destruction of properties by students and most often upsurge of violence resulting in injuries of various degrees and loss of lives (Ada & Akinde , 2015; Olaleye & Arogundade, 2013; Ajibade, 2006). It seems therefore that the strategies adopted by university Vice-Chancellor and his management teammay not have been effective. Conflicts in universities have given rise to distrust and hostility among professionals and academics thus contributing to hampering smooth, effective and efficient administration in the universities.
            Researchers on conflicts have been placed with much attention on causes and effects of conflicts in organizations (Oyebade, 2000; Awosusi,2005; Amuseghan, 2007). These researches show that various forms of conflict also occur at varying degrees and proportions in universities. Amuseghan (2007) for instance, found that the level of occurrence of student-authority conflicts in universities was high while Oyebade (2000) and Awosusi (2005) reported that the level of occurrence of staff-authority conflicts in Nigerian tertiary institutions was also high.
            Analysis of effectiveness of conflict management strategies adopted by universities in Nigeria has been largely ignored. In the western part of the country, researches on analysis of effectiveness of conflict management strategies adopted by universities in Nigeria seem not to be effective due to observable internal conflict. In cases like this, the University Management may only resort to finding solutions to suppressing the conflict from escalating.
It also appears that despite this situation, the education industry, especially universities, seem to develop nonchalant attitude towards effective management of these conflicts. If these conflicts are not checked, they may be destructive as people involved will often see one another as enemies. This is unwholesome for the university community and Nigeria educational system as a whole. Common observation in universities in Nigeria has shown that occurrences of conflicts seem to be frequent despite the existence and use of various strategies by the authorities in managing them. Observations also show that the strategies being used by the authorities in managing or mismanaging these conflicts might have some relationship with the administrative effectiveness of the institution (Adeyemi & Ademilua, 2012). How effective are the conflict management strategies adopted by universities in Nigeria?
From the foregoing, many of the aforementioned studies covered only public (federal and state) universities in Nigeria; ignoring private universities. The seemingly lack of empirical evidence of conflict management strategies on private universitiesis the knowledge gap that this research sought to fill. It therefore becomes expedient that effective conflict management strategies among federal, state, private universitiesin South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria be investigated to identify feasible strategies for minimizing, reducing or avoiding disruptive conflicts in universities.

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to carry out an analysis of conflict management strategies of the universities in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria. Specifically, the study sought to:
1.      find out the areas of conflict as identified by university administrators in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria;
2.      determine the frequency of occurrence of conflict as identified by university administrators in the universities in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria;
3.      identify the sources of conflict in the universities as perceived by university administrators in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria;
4.      determine the conflict management strategies adopted by administrators of the universities in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria;
5.      identify the strategy that is most effectively used by university administrators in managing conflict in the universities in the South West, Nigeria;
6.      find out whether the areas of conflict in the universities in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria differ according to school ownership; and
7.      determine whether the conflict management strategies adopted byuniversity administrators in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria differ according to school ownership

Research Questions
The following research questions were raised to guide the study:
1.      What are the areas of conflict as identified by university administrators in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria?
2.      What is the level of occurrence of conflict as identified by university administrators in the universities in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria?
3.      What arethe sources of conflict in the universities as perceived by university administrators in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria?
4.      What arethe conflict management strategies adopted by administrators of the universities in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria?
5.      Whatstrategies are most effectively used by university administrators in managing conflict in the universities in the South West, Nigeria?
6.      Is there any difference among theadministrators offederal, state and private universities on the areas of conflict in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria?
7.      Is there any difference among theadministrators offederal, state andprivate universities on conflict management strategies adopted by their university administrators in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria?

Hypotheses
The following hypotheses were tested in the study at 0.05 level of significance.
1.      There is no significant difference among theadministrators offederal, state, and private universities on the areas of conflict in universities in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria.
2.      There is no significant difference among theadministrators federal, state, and private universities on the conflict management strategies adopted by their university administrators in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria

Significance of the Study
The findings of this study would contribute to the body of knowledge and therefore increase information in the area of the effectiveness of the conflict management strategies adopted by the universities in the South West Geopolitical Zone of Nigeria. Therefore, it would be of immense importance to Vice-Chancellors, lecturers, students, other staff, policy makers and other educators.
The study would highlight the causes, consequences and effectiveness of conflict management strategies adopted by the universities in Nigeria. Therefore, it would be of importance to decision makers like Vice-Chancellors, Deans, Heads of Departments, and Heads of institutes, Directors of units and students union executives as it would help them to understand the conflict management strategies that can best be used at event of any given conflict in their institution.
Educators, policy makers, administrators and others in the business of education would be provoked by the findings of this study to engage in more research work on conflict management in the universities in Nigeria.

Scope and Delimitations of the Study
This study analyzed the conflict management strategies of the universities in the South West Geopolitical zone of Nigeria. The study covered all the 41 accredited universities in the Geopolitical Zone that have been accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC) as at (2016) comprising six statesnamely: Osun, Ondo, Ogun, Lagos, Oyo and Ekiti States. It examined the areas of conflict, frequency of occurrence of conflicts, sources of conflict, conflict management strategiesfor resolving conflicts and how effective the strategies could be. It also looked at school ownership differences on area of conflict and conflict management strategies adopted by the management team/staff.The conflict management strategies were restricted to only five approaches in the Creative-Contingency Model propounded by Johnson and Johnson of 1994 namely: accommodating, avoiding, collaborating (integrating), competiting (dominating) and compromising.
The university administrators were restricted to: all Vice Chancellors, Deputy Vice Chancellors (Administration and Academic), Registrars, Bursars, University Librarians, Deans of Student Affairs, Provosts of Colleges, the Chief Security Officer, Deputy Registrar (Information and Public Relations Officer), Deans of Faculties, Heads of Departments and Directors of both academic and non-academics in all the accredited universities in the Geopolitical Zone.


Operational Definition of Terms
The following terms are defined operationally as used in this study.
Conflict:                                 This refers to any form of interpersonal and inter-group hostility or aggression between or among: student and student; lecturer and lecturer; non-academic and academic staff; student and lecturers; student and non-academic staff while inter-group conflict covers academic staff and the government; non-teaching staff and the government; academic staff and university authority; non-teaching staff and university authority; school authority and host communities; students and the government; teaching staff and students in the geopolitical zone.
Conflict occurrence:             This refers to the frequency of occurrence on the areas of conflict in the universities as rated on a four point responses of: always, sometimes, seldom and rarely.
Areas of conflict:                   This refers to interpersonal and inter-group conflict in the universities. Inter-personal conflict include: student and student; lecturer and lecturer; non-academic and non-academic staff; student and lecturers; student and non-academic staff while inter-group conflict covers academic staff and the government;non-teaching staff and the government; academic staff and university authority; non-teaching staff and university authority; school authority and host communities; students and the government; teaching staff and students.
Sources of conflict:                This refers to conflict emanating from environmental, sociological, cultural factors and communication gap among members of the university community
Conflict management:           This refers to the five (5) approaches or techniques utilized by the administrators of universities in managing conflicts in universities in South West Geopolitical zones of Nigeria. These five approaches or techniques are: accommodating, avoiding, collaborating, competing and compromising.
Effectiveness of conflict management strategies:   This refers to how best the conflicts management strategies (accommodating, avoiding, collaborating, competing and compromising) are used by university administrators to resolveconflict issues. In this study, effectiveness of conflict management strategies will be measured on a four point scale as follows:
Highly effective –any score of 4 points implies a strategy that is highly effective.
Effective - any score of 3 points implies a strategy that is effective.
Mildly effective – any score of 2 points implies a strategy that is not working too well.
Not effective – any score of 1 implies a strategy not working at all.
University administrators:    Thisrefers to all Vice Chancellors, Deputy Vice Chancellors (Administration and Academic), Registrars, Bursars, University Librarians, Deans of Student Affairs, Provosts of Colleges, the Chief Security Officer, Deputy Registrar (Information and Public Relations Officer), Deans of Faculties, Heads of Departments and Directors of both academic and non-academics in all the accredited universities federal, stateand private) in the Geo-Political Zone.

School ownership:                 This refers to three categories of universities namely: federal, state, privateuniversities in the South West Geopolitical Zone of Nigeria.

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