Background of the Study


Conflict is generally inevitable and can be experienced in all spheres of life. This is because no two human beings are so exactly alike that they can think and act the same way or agree on everything all the time. It is these differences in human beings that make educational institution inevitable of conflicts (Arthur, 2009). Fortunately, most human beings can be persuaded on course. This reality, notwithstanding, is also a fact that the way and manner which differences may be addressed can be difficult for any individual or group having to work in a conflict situation.

Conflict is like a two-edge sword and the way it may be handled determines its outcome. Conflict may bring about either development or progress or negative and devastating consequences in the society. Conflict in an organization can range from trivial to tragic and may occur within the individual, between people and groups. As people come together to satisfy a wide range of emotional needs, social relations in general are swamped with conflict. People interact; deal with differences as well as similarities; with strong dislikes as well as attractions.

Conflict, dispute and disagreement are part of life, so are the feelings that go along with them-hurt, anger, frustration, resentment and or disappointment, especially when individuals are engaged in competition. It is as results from our shared culture orientations regarding competition and getting ahead. Conflict is always seen among individuals and organizations as well.

Mullins (2005) sees conflict as “behavior intended to obstruct the achievement of some other person‟s goals”. This seems to be in congruence with Robbins (1993) assertion that conflict is the act that arises when two or more parties have incompatible interests or goals. This means that conflict occurs as a result of our own actions and inactions. Based on the definitions above, a working definition has been coined by the researcher who sees conflict as a disagreement that occurs in an individual (intrapersonal), between individuals or groups (interpersonal) and among organizations in an attempt to discharge their daily activities or achieve a set goal.

It is obvious that not all conflicts are bad and not all co-operations are good (Robinson 1972). Some people turn to view conflict as a negative force operating against the successful completion of the groups‟ goals while others view conflict as a tool that brings about development and progress in an organization. It would be expedient to distinguish the different views people hold about conflict. Psychologists are of the view that human beings are need–driven, goal oriented individuals who aim at achieving desirable goals and it is not surprising that most conflicts are goal driven (Beebe, Beebe& Redmond 1999).

Traditionalists, coming from the organizational point of view, see conflict as an evidence of breakdown in the efforts of management to halt certain practices in an




organization. Marxists, adding to the view of the traditionalists, perceive conflict as a necessary way of establishing revolutionary changes in an organization. There are also the Pluralists who see conflict as a natural phenomenon that is found in any organization or institution.

This view depicts conflict as something one has to come to terms with because it is an inevitable and cannot be eliminated. From the above mentioned views, it can be concluded that conflict is not necessarily as wasteful as some may see it, but a normal process by which socially valuable differences register themselves for the enrichment of concern. The potential positive outcomes of conflict, such as providing feedback, indicating the need for change, making supervisors aware of problems and increasing motivation are being recognized (Arthur, 2009).

Wright and Noe (1996) point out that because conflict is usually uncomfortable; people tend to think of it as bad. They are, however, of the view that if people handle conflict with mutual respect and trust and achieve an outcome that is favorable to the organization, conflict can be a positive force.

Dissatisfaction among staff members and the library users has led to tensions and confrontations. These tensions and confrontations have weakened effective communication processes in that each party (staff members, library users) in conflict, lacks clear and unambiguous information regarding the others‟ point of view, something which is necessary requirement for effective co-existence. In addition, when staff members or library users or clients study a problem together,




they often assume that with the same facts at everyone‟s disposal, they should all agree on a single analysis.

This is not so, disagreement is even more likely when it is considered that in addition to natural differences stemming from an individual‟s background, there are other issues brought about by a range of other dimensions. These dimensions can be seen from the micro; interpersonal level through to the macro; groups such as organizations, communities and nations. Interestingly, because organizations and institutions have a greater number of people, these areas tend to be fertile grounds where conflict of many kinds are witnessed and felt. It should, therefore, not be surprising that conflict is common in institutions and for that matter, institutions of higher learning.

  Statement of the Problem


Every academic library is established to support teaching and learning processes of that academic institution. Since library is  an organization, it is characterized  by a network of human interactions associated with expressing divergent views, disagreements, differences, complaints, quarrels and many other varying behavioral traits and attitudes which may affect the smooth operation of that particular institution. There are conflicts in academic libraries in Nigeria. These conflicts erupt as a result of poor communication channels, lack of respect because of position, refusal to perform workplace duty, unrealized expectation, etc.

Conflict induces mainly negative and destructive outcomes such as anger, resentment, confusion, sadness and lack of cooperation, among others. It disrupts the smooth functioning of organizational processes, and creates chaos and disorder (Arthur, 2009). In some organizations, conflicts create enmity, lead to demonstrations and retard progress. In effect, conflict can disturb the processes of working to achieve academic library‟s corporate goals and objectives. In the workplace, a simple disagreement between team members, if unresolved, may escalate into avoidance, inability to work together, verbal assaults and resentment. Conflict in an academic library can also be characterized by petty squabbles, bickering, acrimony, rancor, low attendance to shelving, users trying to comply with library rules and idle talk, among others and these are disincentives to the implementation of major policy decisions.

Pierre and Peppers (1976) argue that the important aspect of conflict is how human participants relate and respond to it. Each academic library may have its own unique way of handling or managing conflict when it occurs and this may not be known to the masses.

There is quite a number of literature on conflict management world over. Most of them deal with conflict management in schools, academic institutions, communities, libraries and workplaces. For instance, Kofi (2004) looked at conflict management in University libraries in Nigeria

However, there are little scholarly interests in conflict management in academic libraries in Nigeria using two different universities . Such an investigation is very essential in order to compare the various conflict management strategies used by the academic libraries under study. It is in the light of this that the present study examines Conflicts Resolution in NIGERIA: The role of academic Library


Research Objectives


The objectives of this research were to determine:


  1. The types of conflicts that exist in the UNN and UNILAG libraries
  2. The causes of conflicts among the staff and the users or clients of UNN and UNILAG libraries
  3. The effects of unmanaged conflicts in UNN and UNILAG libraries
  4. The preventive measures of conflicts in UNN and UNILAG libraries
  5. The conflict management mechanisms in UNN and UNILAG libraries

Scope of the Study


This study was confined to UNN library and UNILAG Library. The study identified and analyzed conflicts situations as existed in the libraries and the conflict management mechanisms employed by the management and the individual staff.

Significance of the Study


The occurrence of conflict and its management is of great concern of all stakeholders, especially administrators (librarians) of institutions. This study is an attempt to make a modest contribution to the ongoing process of finding the causes of conflicts in academic libraries and finding ways of managing the conflicts effectively to benefit both the individual employees, users and the institution at large. The study is important because its findings will generate useful information for administrators, librarians, lecturers, and all other people in leadership positions on how to manage conflicts in educational institutions effectively.

It would also prepare the minds of prospective academic librarians with regard to the various conflict situations they are likely to encounter in their chosen professions so as to enhance their preparedness to deal with them. It is the hope of the researcher that this study will create the desired awareness on conflict situations in the academic libraries so that more appropriate efforts will be made by all concerned to address conflicts effectively. This work will also serve as a useful literature for other research on conflict management in the field of academic libraries in Nigeria. The work will also serve as a guide to the future researchers who will want to look at conflict management in any given library.

                Description of Chapters


Chapter one of the study deals with the introduction which includes background to the study, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, objectives, research questions, the scope of the study, the theoretical framework, significance of the study, and the organization of the study.

Chapter two consists of the review of the related literature on conflict management.

Chapter three comprises the methodology. They are the research design, the selection of the cases, selection of the subject, such as the population, sample and sampling techniques, and the research instrument.

Chapter four talks about the presentation of the data and analysis. Chapter five is on the discussion of the findings of the study.

Chapter six presents the summary of the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the study.

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