The Importance of Data in Peacebuilding: Lessons from a Sociological Study in Siberia

Summary of:

Conflict in a cross-border region: insights from a sociological study” Nagaytsev, Artjukhina, & Shrayber – Proceedings of the International Conference on Sustainable Development of Cross-Border Regions: Economic, Social and Security Challenges (ICSDCBR 2019) – 2019

Background & Theory

All societies experience conflict for multiple reasons and in varying intensities. Clashing interests, historical differences, and cultural tensions can be the causes and consequences. These can be resolved through constructive methods but they can turn violent if not contained in time. It is a useful sociological exercise to study the conflict experienced by communities in a specific region, as this study aimed at doing.

Research Question(s)

The author tried to answer the following question:

  1. What is the nature and level of conflict in the Altai region of Siberia?

Methods

A mass sociological survey was conducted under the project “Developing and Promoting a Set of Social Measures to Reduce the Level of Social Tension and Conflict in the Altai Region in 2018-2020.” A standardized interviewing process took place at the respondent’s residential homes. In both urban and rural populations, over 1,220 respondents in four cities and six districts of the Altai Region participated in this survey.

Results

Amongst the many questions asked to participants, the researchers found that 74.6% of the population sometimes experienced conflict, whereas the percentage who experienced conflict constantly was 1.7% and only 6.4% never experienced conflict. In terms of coping strategies, it was found that 35.3% prefer to find a compromise solution to the problem, 21.7% try to prove their case to the opponent at any cost, 19.5 % don’t contradict the opponent, 12.6% do not pay attention to the opponent’s actions, and a minuscule 3% resort to the help of other people.

The study found that the population was not aware of the option to constructively resolve conflicts with the participation of a third party. Only 15% went to court to protect their interests in situations of conflict; 17% relied on the police and other power structures; 24% turned to friends and relatives; 8% relied on state authorities; 5% went to the media; 5% turned to strong and powerful people; and 2% wrote complaints to the Administration of the President, political parties and legislative bodies.

How This Translates for the Workplace

  • Importance of data: In this paper, the authors did a mass survey to inquire into the lives and conflict styles of people in Altai. In order to truly understand how to improve an organization’s environment, data collection is a necessary process. Intervention is inaccurate and random at best if the leadership does not make an active effort to identify the problem areas of the workplace. This is especially true of large-sized companies where there are a few hundred to thousands of employees, dozens of teams, and multiple offices across the country where the HR team can only know enough about their local office. Data always helps to design and implement better-informed interventions.
  • Beyond region and religion: Conflict between communities often stems from stereotypes and prejudices against another community and a lack of cultural empathy/exposure to diversity, but not always. This survey saw that few people had conflicts with another religious or regional community, but often family members, colleagues, bosses, and even a specific professional group. This means that the tendency to be in conflict is an innately human one and that the object of division may not necessarily be related to culture or diversity, but any other differentiator. Hence, employees need to be trained on how to manage such differences that are beyond cultural, but even personality or power related.
  • Conflict resolution skills training: The authors observed that people were not very well aware of conflict coping techniques. Without employees having the ability to identify their own needs and values and manage complex emotions, a workplace can not stay peaceful for very long. Diversity, conflict resolution, and emotional intelligence trainings must become a part of company culture. We at PPS offer training for workplaces in diversity, inclusion, as well as conflict resolution. 
  • Invest in third-party investigation: The study found that only 15% of the population approached the courts during a conflict, and most were not aware of the option to turn to a third-party for resolution. Third-party workplace conflict resolution is in a similar place because very few employees are aware that they have the option to use such a service in the first place. We at PPS offer executive services in third-party mediation and conflict resolution for workplaces. Get in touch with us to know more.