THE EFFECT OF DISPUTE MANAGEMENT AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY ON EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.1   BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Fadipe (2000) sees dispute as a form of disagreement in an establishment between two individuals or groups who have cause to interact formally or informally. Similarly, Miller and King (2005), see it as basically a disagreement between two or more individuals or groups over compatible goals. Dispute therefore is a process of incompatible behaviours. It may involve the interference or disruption by one person or group of persons, or in some way or ways which make another action less likely to be effective.

According to Deutsch (1973), dispute inevitably means that people are working against each other, in such a manner that what one wants is incompatible with that which another wants. It could bring about competition in the pursuit of goals. What the competitor gets comes at the expense of others or the job. It is therefore counter-productive, disruptive, unnatural, and produces a deviation from the free flow of events. A major factor that can throw parties into a state of incompatibility is their perception of the issue at hand or issue of interest. There are other factors that can contribute to the creation of dispute in organizations like task interdependence, scarce resources, goal incompatibility, communication failures, individual differences (or cultural differences) and poorly designed reward system (Ngbekem, 2004).

Dispute is a necessary and useful part of organizational life. It is inevitable and an integral part of the process of change. Indeed, it is an aid to cooperation, not an obstacle. There are two sides to dispute, one is destructive and unhealthy and the other has a problem-solving base where those involved are willing to sublimate personality and cultural differences, to listen to others’ views and to be open and candid to each other, to be supportive and helpful whereas the former defeats cooperation.

Albert (2001) averred that there are productive and destructive disputes. According to him, “A dispute is said to be positive when it is constructively discussed by the parties and amicable terms for settlement reached”. Constructively managed disputes induces a positive performance while poorly managed disputes heats up the environment to bring about ‘dislocation of the entire group and polarization, reduced productivity on employee performance, psychological and physical injury, emotional distress and inability to sleep, interference with problem activities, escalation of differences into antagonistic position and malice and increased hostility (Akaniji, 2005). Through disputes management a cooperative atmosphere is created for promoting opportunities and movement directed towards non-violent, reconciliation or basic clashing interest.
However, no matter how one looks at dispute, it is important to realize that dispute is one of the best ways in the world to turn the tide and improve unsatisfactory conditions. As a matter of fact, sometimes there may be no real dispute to be managed, but there may be need for greater understanding, cooperation and team work to promote interpersonal harmony and good organizational climate for teaching and learning. Therefore, dispute should not always be seen as something undesirable but rather as a necessary outcome that can bring positive consequences if properly managed.

Cultural diversity is a characteristic of groups of two or more people and typically refers to demographic differences of one sort or another among group members (McGrath, Berdahl, and Arrow, 1995). Researchers have generated numerous dimensions for classifying demographic differences, often positing different outcomes for people and work groups, depending on the degree and nature of those differences. Pelled (1996) made one set of predictions about the impact of racial diversity among group members and another about the impact of functional background diversity, based on the visibility of race and the job-relatedness of functional background. Others have distinguished among the effects of diversity depending on whether differences are cultural (Cox, 1993; Larkey, 1996), physical (Strangor et al., 1992), inherent and immutable (Maznevski, 1994), or role-related (Maznevski, 1994; Pelled, 1996). Perhaps more importantly, researchers' predictions about any one diversity variable differ depending on which of its dimensions they see as critical to determining its impact. Pelled (1996) predicted that racial diversity, as a source of visible differences, would incite intergroup bias and lead to negative outcomes for work groups, while Cox, Lobel, and McLeod (1991) predicted that racial diversity, as a source of cultural differences, would enhance creative problem solving and lead to positive outcomes for work groups. Maznevski (1994) suggested that racial diversity, as a source of inherent and immutable differences would provide groups with different kinds of information from which they could potentially benefit, but such differences would often be difficult for parties to understand and accept. As these examples illustrate, both the types and dimensions of demographic variables in which one is interested shape one's inquiry. It is against this background that it becomes pertinent to examine the effect of dispute management and cultural diversity on employee performance.

1.2   STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Dispute emerges in an organization when an individual perceives that his goals are threatened or hindered by the activities of another person. Most disputes an organization arises from the inability of the company to fulfill its collective agreement with its employees resulting in employees embarking on industrial action which may be work-to-rule or total strike. Employees’ industrial action usually results in loss of man-hours, machine-hours, output, skilled personnel, employees’ morale and organizational reputation. More often, cultural differences among employees sometimes lead to dispute in an organization.

1.3   OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The following are the objectives of this study:

  1. To examine the relationship between dispute management and employee performance.
  2. To examine the relationship between cultural diversity and employee performance.
  3. To identify factors that promotes employee performance.

1.4   RESEARCH QUESTIONS

  1. What is the relationship between dispute management and employee performance?
  2. What is the relationship between cultural diversity and employee performance?
  3. What are the factors that promotes employee performance?

1.5   HYPOTHESIS
HO1: There is no significant relationship between dispute management and employee performance
HA1: There is significant relationship between dispute management and employee performance
HO2: There is no significant relationship between cultural diversity and employee performance
HA2: There is significant relationship between cultural diversity and employee performance
1.6   SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are the significance of this study:

  1. Findings from this study will educate the business managers and the general public on the effect of dispute management and cultural diversity on employee performance.
  2. This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of the effect of personality trait on student’s academic performance, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area.

1.7   SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study will cover the relationship between dispute management and employee performance. It will also cover the relationship between cultural diversity and employee performance.
LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work

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