Business Administration Project Topics

Strategies of Managing Industrial Conflict in Unilever Nigeria

Strategies of Managing Industrial Conflict in Unilever Nigeria

Strategies of Managing Industrial Conflict in Unilever Nigeria


Objectives of the Study

The objectives of this study are as follows:

  1. To explore the strategies used by Unilever Nigeria in managing industrial conflicts.
  2. To assess the effectiveness of these strategies in preventing and resolving conflicts.
  3. To analyze the impact of conflict management strategies on organizational performance and employee well-being.



Conceptual Review

Industrial Conflict

The examination of industrial conflict within organizational settings is foundational to understanding the intricate dynamics that arise when differing interests intersect (Barton, 2018; Jones & George, 2021). This section seeks to elucidate the multifaceted nature of conflicts, encompassing a spectrum of forms and manifestations (Duke, 2020). Industrial conflicts can emerge from factors such as differing perspectives on compensation, work conditions, and management decisions (Fajana & Shadare, 2018). They can be triggered by varying expectations and needs among employees, managers, and other stakeholders (Katz, 2020).

Furthermore, the origins of industrial conflicts can be traced to deeper organizational issues such as power dynamics, communication breakdowns, and resource allocation disparities (Ford, 2017; Rahim & Buntzman, 2017). As such, this section explores the triggers that propel conflicts from their inception, examining how seemingly trivial disagreements can escalate into significant disputes (Grace, 2022). The potential implications of these conflicts are far-reaching and may encompass reduced morale, decreased productivity, and strained interpersonal relationships (Lewis, Fresh, & Steane, 1995; Obasan, 2021).

In summary, the exploration of industrial conflict within organizational contexts is crucial for unravelling the complexities that underlie discordant interactions (Schellenberg, 2019). By comprehending the varied forms, triggers, and potential consequences of conflicts, organizations can proactively design conflict management strategies that mitigate negative outcomes and foster a more harmonious work environment (Wall & Callister, 2019).

Conflict Management Strategies

Within the realm of organizational conflict, effective management strategies play a pivotal role in maintaining a productive and collaborative work environment (Chinedu, Vincent, & Enaini, 2018; Hussein, Al-Mamary, & Hassan, 2017). This section delves into a diverse array of strategies utilized by organizations to address conflicts and achieve resolution. These strategies encompass negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and other constructive techniques (Anderson, 2018; Fajana, 2020).

Negotiation stands out as a primary approach, focusing on collaborative discussions where parties seek mutually agreeable solutions (Rivers, 2019). Mediation introduces a neutral third party to facilitate communication and understanding among conflicting parties (Salami, 2019). Arbitration involves a more formal process where an impartial arbitrator makes decisions that resolve disputes (Steyn, 2019). Additionally, other resolution techniques, such as compromise and avoidance, contribute to a comprehensive conflict management toolkit (Rahim, 2020; Weihrich, Cannice, & Koontz, 2021).

The section carefully considers the strengths and limitations of each strategy. Negotiation fosters open dialogue but requires effective communication skills (Barton, 2018). Mediation promotes understanding but may not always lead to enforceable outcomes (Puttapalli & Vuram, 2020). Arbitration offers finality but can be time-consuming and formal (Rahim & Buntzman, 2017). Balancing these factors, organizations strategically select the approach that aligns with their goals and contextual constraints (Singh, 2019).





In this chapter, the methodology employed to conduct the study on managing industrial conflict in Unilever Nigeria is detailed. The selection of an appropriate research design, population, sample size, data collection methods, data analysis techniques, and ethical considerations are expounded upon. This chapter aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the methodology that underpins the study.

Research Design

The research design selected for this study is a quantitative cross-sectional survey, a well-suited approach to gathering data from a substantial pool of participants at a specific moment in time. This methodology is particularly advantageous for exploring the interrelationships among variables and aligns seamlessly with the study’s central objective of discerning effective strategies for handling industrial conflict within the context of Unilever Nigeria. The quantitative cross-sectional survey design is founded on the premise that it permits researchers to analyze data across variables and examine patterns, trends, and associations that may exist among them( Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2019).

In essence, the rationale behind adopting a quantitative cross-sectional survey design stems from its capacity to provide numerical data that can be subjected to rigorous statistical analysis (Anderson, Fontinha, & Robson, 2020; Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2019). By collecting data at a single point in time, the research seeks to capture a snapshot of the prevailing circumstances surrounding industrial conflict management strategies at Unilever Nigeria. This design facilitates the exploration of potential causal relationships and correlations between various factors within the organization’s conflict management practices.

Through this quantitative approach, the study intends to measure and quantify variables related to conflict management strategies, thus enabling a comprehensive assessment of the effectiveness of diverse strategies in mitigating industrial conflicts. Moreover, the numerical data obtained will permit researchers to employ advanced statistical techniques, such as correlation analysis and regression analysis, to scrutinize the connections between variables, lending empirical support to the study’s exploration of strategies that foster harmonious workplace relations in Unilever Nigeria. This design choice underscores the rigour and objectivity inherent in a quantitative approach, which aligns perfectly with the research’s analytical aims and its focus on practical implications for managing industrial conflict.

Population of the Study

The chosen target population for this study comprises the employees of Unilever Nigeria, a decision grounded in the inherent value of their direct involvement in and intimate knowledge of the organization’s conflict management strategies. Employees, being the primary stakeholders and witnesses to the dynamics within the organization, are equipped to offer valuable insights into the efficacy and challenges of existing conflict resolution approaches. Their perspectives are essential for capturing nuanced details and experiences that influence the effectiveness of these strategies.

The rationale for selecting Unilever Nigeria’s employees is fortified by the organization’s extensive organizational structure and diverse workforce composition, factors that contribute to the organization’s complexity and multifaceted nature (Eisenhardt, 2015; Yin, 2018). With various departments, hierarchies, and roles, the organization creates a dynamic environment wherein conflicts may manifest differently based on these distinctions. By targeting a broad cross-section of employees, including those from various departments and hierarchical levels, the study aims to acquire a comprehensive understanding of the range of conflict management strategies utilized and the extent to which they resonate across the diverse organizational landscape.

By engaging employees in this research, the study endeavours to capture their perspectives on the practicality, effectiveness, and adaptability of conflict management strategies in a real-world context. Their voices will provide a crucial foundation for generating insights that could potentially inform enhancements to the existing conflict resolution approaches, thereby contributing to Unilever Nigeria’s ongoing efforts to foster a harmonious work environment. Through this targeted population selection, the study aspires to illuminate the intricacies of managing industrial conflict within the multifarious landscape of Unilever Nigeria.



Data Presentation

Table 4.1 presents the distribution of questionnaires administered for the study. Out of a total of 120 questionnaires distributed, 104 were returned and completed, representing a response rate of 86.7%. Additionally, 16 questionnaires were not returned or completed, accounting for 13.3% of the total distribution. These response rates signify a favourable level of participation from the respondents, indicating their interest and willingness to contribute to the research.

The high percentage (86.7%) of returned and completed questionnaires underscores the engagement and commitment of the participants to the study. This robust response rate reflects the participants’ recognition of the importance of the research topic – the strategies for managing industrial conflict in Unilever Nigeria. The active involvement of respondents demonstrates their willingness to share their insights and experiences, contributing to the reliability and validity of the study’s findings.



Summary of Findings

The demographic profile of Unilever Nigeria’s employees, as revealed in Tables 4.2 and 4.3, illustrates a diverse age distribution, with the majority falling within the 11-15 age range (78.8%). The educational level (Table 4.4) indicates a balanced distribution between bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Departments vary (Table 4.5), with HR and Administration representing significant portions. Experience levels (Table 4.6) span from 1-3 years to over 10 years, while job positions (Table 4.7) range from entry-level to management.

Tables 4.8 and 4.9 highlight crucial aspects of workplace dynamics. A substantial majority of employees (95.2%) are not part of unions or associations (Table 4.8). Conflicts are frequent (80.8%), managed through open communication channels (71.2%), and resolved collaboratively (76.9%) (Table 4.9). Notably, conflict resolution workshops (75.0%) and hierarchical decision-making (83.7%) contribute to the management of conflicts (Tables 4.12 and 4.13).

The effectiveness of Unilever Nigeria’s conflict management strategies is evident in subsequent tables. Tables 4.14 to 4.17 highlight that these strategies (77.9%-85.6%) contribute to positive work environments, prompt resolution, and reduced conflict recurrence. Furthermore, the strategies enhance organizational performance (76.0%), employee well-being (86.5%), teamwork (81.7%), and retention (90.4%) (Tables 4.18-4.21).

In summary, Unilever Nigeria’s workforce encompasses diverse age groups, educational backgrounds, departments, and experience levels. Most employees are not part of unions, and conflicts are frequent, addressed through open communication and collaborative problem-solving. Conflict resolution workshops and hierarchical decision-making play crucial roles. The organization’s conflict management strategies contribute significantly to a positive work environment, prompt resolution, enhanced performance, employee well-being, teamwork, and retention.


In conclusion, the results of the hypotheses tested provide valuable insights into the relationship between conflict management strategies and various organizational outcomes within Unilever Nigeria. The findings highlight the organization’s effective approach to conflict resolution, with strong agreement among respondents indicating that these strategies significantly enhance overall organizational performance, improve employees’ job satisfaction and well-being, foster teamwork and collaboration, and contribute to the retention of skilled employees. These outcomes collectively underscore the vital role of well-implemented conflict management strategies in creating a harmonious and productive work environment.

The study’s results affirm the significance of tailoring conflict management approaches to the specific needs of a diverse and dynamic workforce, especially in the context of a multinational corporation like Unilever Nigeria. By recognizing the multifaceted nature of conflicts and the nuanced interactions among various strategies, organizations can draw important lessons from Unilever Nigeria’s successful conflict management practices. These insights offer a roadmap for other companies operating in similar contexts to refine their strategies and ensure the effective resolution of conflicts, thus promoting positive organizational outcomes and fostering an environment conducive to growth and innovation.


Based on the findings of this study, several recommendations emerge to enhance the organization’s practices and offer broader insights for similar contexts:

  1. Diversify Conflict Management Workshops: Given the positive correlation between conflict resolution workshops and employee satisfaction, Unilever Nigeria should expand its offerings to encompass a wider range of conflict management training programs. This should include addressing cultural differences, enhancing communication skills, and promoting empathy to effectively manage diverse conflicts that may arise among employees.
  2. Strengthen Open Communication Channels: The organization’s commitment to open communication as a conflict resolution mechanism should be reinforced. Ensuring that employees are aware of and have easy access to these channels will contribute to maintaining transparency, trust, and rapid resolution of conflicts.
  3. Promote Collaborative Problem-Solving: Capitalize on the encouraging results from the study by actively fostering collaborative problem-solving. Unilever Nigeria can establish interdisciplinary teams to address conflicts, leveraging the diverse perspectives of its workforce to create innovative and holistic solutions.
  4. Continuous Training for Management: The significant influence of management in conflict resolution underscores the need for continuous training for managers. Strengthening their conflict management skills, emotional intelligence, and ability to mediate disputes will empower them to efficiently address conflicts at various levels of the organization.
  5. Tailor Strategies to Departmental Needs: Recognizing the differences in conflict experiences across departments, Unilever Nigeria should customize its conflict management strategies to accommodate distinct departmental dynamics. This targeted approach can enhance the relevance and effectiveness of conflict resolution strategies, leading to more positive outcomes.

Contribution to Knowledge

This study makes a significant contribution to the field of organizational conflict management by shedding light on the intricate dynamics within Unilever Nigeria and offering insights that extend to broader contexts. The research delves into the specific strategies employed by Unilever Nigeria to manage conflicts and their subsequent impact on various organizational aspects. By systematically exploring these strategies and their effectiveness, this study not only enhances our understanding of conflict management practices within a multinational corporation but also provides a valuable benchmark for similar organizations operating in diverse and multicultural environments.

Furthermore, this research offers a nuanced perspective on the relationship between conflict management strategies and organizational performance, employee well-being, teamwork, and retention. By quantitatively analyzing these correlations, the study provides empirical evidence that can guide organizations in making informed decisions about conflict management approaches. The findings underscore the importance of context-specific conflict resolution strategies, particularly in a country like Nigeria with its distinct cultural and economic fabric. As such, this study contributes not only to academic knowledge but also provides actionable insights for practitioners seeking to foster harmonious workplaces, enhance productivity, and retain skilled employees in diverse organizational settings.


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