Conflict management in emerging cooperatives in the Northern Cape Province
Piki, Lesedi Edward
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Cooperatives are autonomous and voluntarily associations of people with common socio-economic goals striving for a democratically jointly owned business enterprise ILO (2014). Cooperatives are used throughout the world to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as set by the United Nations. Although it is evident that cooperatives are a vehicle for socio-economic development, the mortality rate of emerging cooperatives in South Africa is alarmingly high, with the Northern Cape Province in the lead at 97.5%. Mismanagement of conflict is among the prominent causes of this high failure rate. In this study, a qualitative research design was used that involves semi-structured questionnaires. The overall aim of this research was to explore the in-depth knowledge, perceptions and opinions of the research participants on conflict management strategies in four emerging cooperatives in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa. This research further investigated how conflict management contributes towards the collapse of emerging cooperatives. The four cooperatives chosen for this research postulated the underlying causes of conflict, conflict management strategies and the impact thereof. The findings indicated that dealing with conflict management in emerging cooperatives is one of the critical success factors for the sustenance of emerging cooperatives. The underlying causes of conflict include goal and opinion differences, lack of transparency and poor communication. Furthermore, mismanagement of conflict yielded job losses, business sabotage, distortion of member commitment, reduced productivity and strained social cohesion. The participants recommended continuous communication, establishment of operating rules, transparency and teamwork as internal critical measures for the sustenance of the emerging cooperatives that must be coupled with third-party assistance, training and mentorship.