An investigation into perceptions of conflict as a functional/dysfunctional phenomenon in A.C.T. secondary colleges

  • Robert Priest

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    Conflict is a phenomenon which appears to exist in the management and operation of most organisations. The effect that conflict can have on staff performance and the organisation itself is often dependent on how successfully it is managed within the organisation and the perceptions that people have about conflict and its occurrence in the workplace. This is none the less so in the management and administration of educational organisations and in particular, ACT secondary colleges. This study focuses on the identification of perceptions held by teachers and administrators in ACT secondary colleges about the occurrence of conflict in the management of these organisations and interpreting these perceptions in the light of relevant literature and current management practices. The research adds to the body of knowledge concerning conflict in organisations. It provides new information in the previously unresearched area on the occurrence of conflict in the management of ACT colleges and whether conflict is perceived as functional or dysfunctional in existing management practice. To undertake this study of government secondary colleges in the ACT a comparative analysis survey was chosen. Staff representing each of the four levels of management within colleges were asked to complete a questionnaire. The data was analysed on a comparative basis to identify and compare perceptions held at each of these management levels about the conflict phenomenon, its effect on staff performance and the smooth running of the college. The research findings have produced much evidence to suggest that a degree of tolerance towards conflict does exist in ACT colleges. There is also evidence to support the view that some staff feel uncomfortable in conflict situations while others find conflict invigorating. Sufficient evidence has been produced on which to base recommendations that could result in other management practices being adopted in colleges. The study has identified a need for more staff Lo be trained in the management of conflict and in resolution techniques. It has also shown that management practices need to include a v review of communication channels used in some colleges to alleviate perceptions that poor communication is a cause of unnecessary conflict. This study has sought to clarify some of the uncertainties that appear to surround the conflict phenomenon in organisations such as colleges. It seeks to reveal some of the more positive aspects about conflict which suggest that it can be a force operating to assist the functioning and good management of an organisation and the vigorous pursuit of organisational goals.
    Date of Award1995
    Original languageEnglish

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