Industrial psychology postgraduate students' perceptions of conflict in the labour relationship and the incidence of industrial action in South Africa : a qualitative study.
MetadataShow full item record
The aim of this study is to explore postgraduate industrial psychology students’ perceptions of the concept of conflict in the labour relationship and the incidence of industrial action in South Africa. A qualitative research approach is used to explore the perceptions of these students in relation to the concept of conflict and the incidence of industrial action. The sample of participants who were interviewed consisted of ten postgraduate (honours and masters) industrial psychology students at a university in South Africa. This study also explored several university prospectuses which revealed students’ exposure to the concept of conflict in their academic curriculum. Purposive sampling was employed in this study. The method of data analysis used was thematic analysis. The emerging themes were: (1) perceptions of industrial action; (2) apartheid versus democracy; (3) capitalism; (4) employee versus employer; (5) unions as mediators; (6) factors contributing to industrial action; (7) perceptions of conflict; (8) factors contributing to conflict; (9) exposure; and (10) solutions. The findings of this study revealed that honours and masters participants had a broad and contextualized understanding of the concept of conflict in the labour relationship and the incidence of industrial action in South Africa. The study also revealed that these participants were exposed to these concepts in a more contextualized manner based on their academic curriculum. Overall participants expressed well rounded knowledge on the subject matter and aspects associated with industrial action and conflict. Both honours and masters participants expressed the need for more practical exposure in association with theoretical exposure in their academic studies. A comparison of several university prospectuses revealed that only three out of the eight universities included in this study incorporate conflict and labour relations in their academic curriculum. Furthermore, this study revealed that students are exposed to technical and structural solutions rather than political solutions to reduce issues of conflict and industrial action. The majority of participants were not able to provide possible solutions for the reduction of industrial action and conflict. The findings of this study revealed that more research needs to be conducted on conflict and industrial action in the South African context. This adds value to the field of industrial psychology and academia. Perusal of several university prospectuses revealed a limited amount of exposure to the concept of conflict across South African universities.