n African Renaissance - Oil operations and conflicts in the Niger Delta, Nigeria - an analysis of inter and intra organisational conflicts affecting Shell

Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1744-2532
  • E-ISSN: 2516-5305


Much of the scholarly works on conflicts in the Niger Delta of Nigeria, dwell on the issues of industry versus host community relations, as well as on matters of corporate social and environmental responsibility (Frynas, 1998; Human Rights Watch 1999; Ibeanu, 2000; Ifeka, 2004; Omeje, 2004; Zalik, 2004; and Omeje, 2006). Indeed, the efforts that go to look at conflicts in the operations of the generality of multinational corporations, pay attention only to conflicting issues and causes of conflict between multinational corporations and host governments or other publics (Negandhi, 1980). This means that intra-organisational conflicts such as the conflicts that occur in labour-management relations in the oil industry in Nigeria Niger Delta, for instance, have received little or no attention from scholars. Similarly, little or no effort is recorded in the area of investigating possible links between the externally significant conflicts on the one hand and incidents of conflicts within organisations operating in the Niger Delta on the other.

We contend that conflict is endemic in social groupings, and as such can be observed not only in the context of interactions between groups but also in the relationship between actors within individual groups. We contend also that an investigation into the pattern of linkages between inter-organisational conflicts and intra-organisational conflicts is a worthwhile academic endeavour.
In regard to the context of intra organisational conflicts, we note that the processes that occur in the operations of an organisation engenders conflicts with various stakeholders in both the internal and external environments. Furthermore, it is evident that the boundary between the external and internal environments of organisations have become essentially blurred, due to the power of information technology, and therefore it is reasonable to expect mutually influencing effects between conflicts at the external environment of organisations and those within the internal organisation.
In this study we introduce a view of the conflicts that are associated with the operations of a multinational oil operations, with the aim of investigating the links between the conflicts internal to the organisation on the one hand and those between the organisation and actors in the external environment on the other hand. Our case study is the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria. As this is the largest oil company operating in Nigeria, it is our expectation that an understanding of the nature of conflicts affecting the company in both the external and internal dimensions, will support efforts geared towards an efficient management of the oil sector and indeed the oil-dependent economy of Nigeria.
Our findings show that there are incidents of conflict between the multinational company as an organisation and various stakeholders in its environment - internal and external, and that there are indications of patterns of causes of conflicts and the manner of responses by the various stakeholders.

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