Exploring cultural values in conflict management: a qualitative study of university heads of departments

Babatunde, Akanji and Mordi, Chima and Ajonbadi, Hakeem Ajonadi and Adekoya, Olatunji David (2021) Exploring cultural values in conflict management: a qualitative study of university heads of departments. Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, 16 (2). pp. 350-369. ISSN 1746-5648

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Purpose: In seeking to understand the impact of culture on conflict management (CM), extant organisational management research has, for the most part, confined itself to using the one-dimensional collectivism/individualism model of Hofstede’s cultural theory. The present study extends this knowledge area by adopting the more comprehensive analysis of Hofstede’s fourfold dimensional typology—power distance, individualism/collectivism, uncertainty avoidance and masculinity/femininity—as a conceptual lens to investigate how national culture impacts the interpersonal conflict management of those in leadership positions in higher education institutions. Specifically, this article explores the extent to which cultural values influence the conflict management practices of university heads of departments (HODs).
Design/methodology/approach: Adopting a qualitative approach, 36 interviews were conducted with heads of different departments across a variety of disciplines in selected Nigerian universities.
Findings: The study’s results conceptualise how underlying cultural norms—promoting paternalism, servility and social relations—influence the conflict-handling strategies adopted by university HODs. It consequently emerged from our thematic analysis that in Nigeria, conflict-handling decisions are shaped by status-based dictates, a normative emphasis on communality, masculine hegemony and religious motivation—as opposed to Western cultures, where these benevolent and integrative values play a far smaller role.
Limitation/implications: The study focused on a small group of research subjects. Although the sample is not a sample that enables generalisation, our findings provide theoretical insights into how cultural ascendancy could frame conflict resolutions. This research is especially relevant as it runs in a culture significantly different from the ones that originally were investigated and in which managerial books and mainstream practices emerged and, thus, can contribute to challenge and enhance theory.
Originality/value: The study seeks to advance knowledge of the interface between culture and conflict management in a Sub-Saharan African context where literature is scarce.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1108/QROM-06-2020-1953
24 February 2021Accepted
30 March 2021Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Conflict management, Conflict resolution, Hofstede’s cultural theory, cultural values, heads of department, HODs, Nigerian universities
Subjects: CAH17 - business and management > CAH17-01 - business and management > CAH17-01-05 - human resource management
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > College of Business, Digital Transformation & Entrepreneurship
Depositing User: Hakeem Ajonbadi
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2021 15:21
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2023 11:48
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/11893

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