Comparative analysis of conflict dynamics within private and public sector organizations
In South Africa, private and public sector organizations have been experiencing conflict at an increasing rate during the past few decades and especially the last ten years. The prominence and high level with which conflict is regarded in this new democracy has made the study of this phenomenon more relevant. Especially within business organizations, between individuals, groups, and at management level, the influence of transformation and affirmative action has steadily affected interpersonal and intergroup relations. This situation makes it more difficult to handle or to manage. The lack of knowledge experienced in many business organizations causes mismanagement of conflict which eventually (directly or indirectly) affects the productivity of the employee corps and subsequently, the effectivity or profitability of the organization. The objective of this study was to establish by means of a comparative theoretical and empirical analysis, the nature, causes and handling/ management styles of conflict within a public and a private sector organization. Being respectively non-profit and profit driven organizations and having introduced affirmative action and transformation at different degrees, it was possible to evaluate the effect with regard to conflict. The research method followed in this study was both qualitative and quantitative. In the first five chapters a theoretical, qualitative approach was applied. Different theories of conflict, from the classical, neo-classical to modern systems, were analysed in order to establish sources of conflict. From this discussion, an analysis of conflict which was viewed by the theories of both Karl Marx and Ralph Dahrendorf to be a social interactive process characterized by force, strife and animosity, was accepted to form the basis of the study regarding the sources of conflict. Departing from this basis the various concepts of conflict as developed in the literature were studied in a comparative way. This was followed by a comparative analysis of conflict handling processes for which an adapted conflict process model was presented. The elements of this model form the core research of this study. Analysis of three key conflict handling style models (Thomas-Killman, ROC-II and CMS) were consequently compared to decide which one would be the most suitable for the empirical survey. The second part of this study consisted of a quantitative comparison of causes, handling styles and manifestation of conflict on an interpersonal basis within a local authority and an agricultural company. This was done by means of questionnaires containing designed variables obtained from the qualitative section of the study and a standardized section borrowed from Rahim's ROC-II model questionnaire. The descriptive statistical analysis was done with the SPSS-program in consultation with the STATCON Bureau of the Rand Afrikaans University. The empirical survey validated the viewpoints brought forward in the qualitative part of the study. By way of the results obtained from the analysis, the four hypotheses which were linked to the set objectives of the study were validated. The four hypothesis are: - A significant difference exists with regard to the causes of conflict between a local authority and agricultural organization. - A significant difference exists between employees of the local authority and the agricultural organization's perception of what effect conflict has on them. - A significant difference exists in the frequency with which different conflict-handling styles are used when compared to different background variables in both organizations. - A significant difference exists in the frequency with which different conflict-handling styles are used amongst employees of the agricultural organization and local authority Explicit findings with regard to the literature (qualitative) and empirical (quantitative) study were brought forward, and practical recommendations for management as well as recommendations for further research were made.
- ETD@PUK 
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