EVALUATION OF CRISIS MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES IN SELECTED UNIVERSITIES IN SOUTH-EAST NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT

This study sought to evaluate the crisis management strategies used by the Public Relations departments of Nigerian universities in handling crisis situations and also the effectiveness of these strategies. These objectives were born out of the prevalence of crisis in Nigerian universities which has become an issue of concern. The study was anchored on one theory (Human Relations Theory of Management) and one model (Public Relations Transfer Process Model). In meeting the research objectives, the study adopted the explanatory mixed method. The purposive and proportionate stratified sampling techniques were used in selecting the sample for the study. A sample size of 399 was used for the questionnaire while a sample size of 20 was used for the in-depth interview. The study was divided into two phases. Whereas data for the first phase were collected through questionnaire from undergraduate students and staff of selected Nigerian universities in the South-East (ABSU, EBSU, IMSU, NAU and UNN), data for the second phase were collected through in-depth interview with the PROs, ASUU and SSANU chairmen and SUG presidents of these universities. Data obtained were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. Data obtained through questionnaire were analyzed using frequency tables, percentages and ANOVA while data obtained through interview were analyzed qualitatively. It was found that the Public Relations departments adopt good strategies such as communicating to staff and students and involving staff and students in management decision making. Yet, further finding revealed that these strategies have not helped in reducing the rate of crisis in universities, based on the fact that these strategies are not often used. Other factors that hinder the effectiveness of these strategies were revealed to be inability of the management to accord Public Relations its rightful position, inadequate fund and staff to carry out PR functions. It is based on these findings that the study recommends that the strategies such as prompt listening and response to the needs and welfare of staff and students, participatory communication and involvement of staff and students in decision making should be strictly adopted and adhered to by the management and PROs of universities. The study further recommends that the management should accord great importance to Public Relations by recognizing it at the top management level.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page
Table of Contents
List of Tables
List of Figures
Abstract

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1       Background to the Study
1.2       Statement of the Problem
1.3       Objectives of the Study
1.4       Research Questions
1.5       Significance of the Study
1.6       Scope of the Study
1.7       Definition of Key Terms
References

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1       Focus of the Review
2.2       Conceptual Review
2.2.1   Definition and Meaning of Public Relations
2.2.2   Public Relations as management function
2.2.3    The concept of crisis
2.2.4   Conventional Crisis Management Plans or Strategies
2.2.5   History of students’ crisis in Nigerian Universities
2.2.6   Staff Unions and University Administration
2.2.7   Public Relations in crisis management
2.3       Empirical Review
2.4       Theoretical Framework
2.4.1  Human Relations Theory of Management
2.4.2  Public Relations Transfer Process Model
References

CHAPTER THREE:  METHODOLOGY
3.1       Research Design
3.2       Population of Study
3.3       Sample Size
3.4       Sampling Technique
3.5       Measuring Instruments
3.6       Method of Administering Instruments
3.7       Validity of Instruments
3.8       Reliability of Instruments
3.9       Method of Data Presentation and Analysis
References

CHAPTER FOUR:  DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
4.1       Quantitative Analysis
            4.1.1. Demographic Data
            4.1.2. Psychographic Data
            4.1.3. Research Question One: What type of crisis is most common in Nigerian Universities?
            4.1.4  Research Question Two: What have been the causes of these crises and how often do they occur?
            4.1.5  Research Question Three: What are the various strategies used by the Public Relations units of Nigerian universities?
            4.1.6.  Research Question Four: How effective are these strategies used in ameliorating crises in universities?
            4.1.7. Research Question Five: What control measures could be used to handle future crises in Nigerian Universities?
4.2:      Qualitative Analysis
            Part 1: Analysis of data obtained from the Public Relations Officers of
            selected universities
4.2.1. Research Question 1: What type of crises are most common in Nigerian Universities?
4.2.2. Research Question 2: What have been the causes of these crises, and how often do they occur?
4.2.3. Research Question 3: What are the various strategies used by the Public Relations Units of Nigerian Universities in managing crises?
4.2.4. Research Question 4: How effective are these strategies in ameliorating crises in the university system?
4.2.5. Research Question 5: What control measures could be used to handle future crises in Nigerian Universities?
Part 2: Analysis of Data obtained from selected universities ASUU Chairmen
4.2.6. Research Question 1: What type of crises are most common in Nigerian Universities?
4.2.7. Research Question 2: What are the causes of these crises, and how often do they occur?
4.2.8. Research Question 4: How effective are these strategies used in ameliorating crises in the university system?
4.2.9. Research Question 5: What control measures could be used to handle future crises in Nigerian Universities?
Part 3: Analysis of responses obtained from SSANU chairmen of selected Universities
4.2.10. Research Question 1: What types of crises are most common in Nigerian universities?
4.2.11. Research Question 2: What have been the causes of these crises and how often do they occur?
4.2.12. Research Question 4: How effective are these strategies used in ameliorating crises in the university system?
4.2.13. Research Question 5: What control measures could be used to handle future crises in Nigerian Universities?
Part 4: Analysis of responses obtained from SUG presidents of the selected Universities
4.2.14. Research Question 1: What type of crisis is most common in Nigerian universities?
4.2.15. Research Question 2: What are the causes of these crises and how often do they occur?
4.2.16. Research Question 4: How effective are these strategies used in ameliorating crises in the university system?
            4.2.17. Research Question 5: What control measures could be used to handle future crises in Nigerian Universities?
4.3       Discussion of Findings
            4.3.1: Research Question One: What type of crisis is most common in Nigerian universities?
            4.3.2: Research Question Two: What have been the causes of theses crises and how often do they occur?
            4.3.2: Research Question Three: What are the various strategies used by the Public Relations units Nigerian universities in managing crises?
            4.3.4: Research Question Four: How effective are these strategies used in ameliorating crises?
            4.3.5: Research Question Five: What control measures could be used to handle future crises in Nigerian Universities?
4.4       Limitations of the Study
            References

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1       Summary
5.2       Conclusion
5.3       Recommendations
            References
            BIBIOGRAPHY
            APPENDIX

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to the study
Crisis as an inevitable phenomenon in every organisation always emerges between organisations and their stakeholders. It connotes an event, issue or occurrence that violates the natural order of things and produces a destructive force or threat to the organization. Though crises exist in various sectors, the rate at which they arise in the Nigerian university system is alarming, resulting in disruption of academic programmes. An instance was the protest led by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and its sister unions at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) on January 6, 2014, which disrupted academic activities as both campuses at Nsukka and Enugu remained closed at the beginning of the 2013/2014 academic session, (Nigerian Newsworld Magazine, Jan 2014).


The goal of university education is pursued through its main functions and activities of teaching, research, dissemination of existing and new information, service to the community, and being a storehouse of knowledge (FRN, 1981). In carrying out these functions, there are always conflicts within and among the categories of people within the university community, namely students, academics, administrators, non-academics and their unions. These categories of people have different purposes and expectations from the university. The non-academics who perform support- functions might feel unappreciated by both the superior academics and the potentially more prestigious students. The administrators might also clash with students and staff in carrying out their functions of recruitment, admission, examination and provision of welfare services for the staff and students. Also, the academics have a complex dual role of teaching and research. These two roles, though reinforce one another, could be a source of much tension over the individual's division of time, energy and commitment, (Alabi, n.d).
Section 46 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004, asserts that Universities (and other tertiary institutions) shall pursue educational goals provided in section 45 through, among others, teaching; research and development; virile staff development programmes; generation and dissemination of knowledge, to mention a few. In spite of the laudable goals and objectives which Universities are expected to perform, the various problems and constraints which confront them have practically made it impossible for these objectives to be realized.
Arikewuyo (n.d) in his study confirmed that “the University system in Nigeria has witnessed a lot of turbulent experiences. The crisis has been characterized by a combination of chronic under-funding, rapidly increasing student enrolment, inadequacy of facilities, deterioration of physical infrastructure, a growing culture of arbitrariness and suppression in managing the institutions, demoralization of staff and students, incessant student riots and periodic staff strikes”. Efforts at solving and ameliorating these problems have often led to collision between the government and staff unions on one hand, and between university administration and staff unions on the other, (p. 16).

Also, Mbajiorgu’s study (1996, p.1) revealed that “students’ crisis has become a recurrent phenomena in Nigerian tertiary institutions. The recurrence of this unrest has reached a magnitude that calls for urgent attention that is needed to rescue Nigeria’s collapsing higher institution”. The findings from Okpoko’s (2004) work equally revealed that there were no complimentary channels of communication to the students; and that Public Relations is not in management level capacity in universities. Similarly, Adebayo (2009) in his study titled ‘Students-Authority crisis in Nigerian Universities’ observed that Student versus authority crisis seems to be as old as the institution of formal education itself. Aina (1977), cited by Adebayo (2009), postulated that “students versus authority conflict is consequential to the Second World War”. The researcher further maintains that students have been protesting, often, violently for over two and a half centuries in American universities. Hence, students’ unrest had its roots from American Universities.
Although crises in Nigerian universities started since the advent of university education in the country, Mbajiorgu, (1996, p.1) quoting Effiong stated that the first fatal students crisis in Nigerian Universities was “the University of Ibadan violent protest of 1960, during which the students clashed with the police over the Anglo-Nigerian defence Pact”. Nigerian students aware of the British government’s intention to establish a military base in Nigeria and by so doing perpetuate a neo-colonial state, decided to stage a protest against the proposed Anglo-Nigerian Defence pact in Lagos on November 14, 1960.

The review of some literature revealed that the main cause of crisis in the university system however, is the communication gap or information breakdown as well as the insensitivity of the university authorities to the needs and aspirations of the relevant stakeholders, which constantly result in misunderstanding and disagreement between these stakeholders and the university management. Other contributing factors to crises were found to include: competition for scarce resources, perceived goal incompatibility, drives for autonomy and academic freedom, management style of universities, differences in values and lifestyles, politics and national issues, inadequate infrastructure and poor university administration among others. In addition to conflicts arising from situations intrinsic to the university, some arise due to political objectives outside the university.

Another cause of crisis is the existence of anti-social organisations in Nigerian universities. The presence of secret cults in our tertiary institutions has added another serious dimension to the problem of crisis experienced today in Nigerian universities. Fatile,J.O & Adejuwon,K.D (2011) in their study were of the opinion that because of the importance of......

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