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Buletin Penelitian Hortikultura, Tahun 1995, Volume XXVII, Nomor 4.

PERCEPTUAL ANALYSIS OF CONFLICTS BETWEEN RESEARCH AND


EXTENSION: A CASE STUDY IN WEST JAVA, INDONESIA
Witono Adiyoga

ABSTRACT

Adiyoga, W. 1994. Analisis persepsi mengenai konflik antara penelitian dan penyuluhan: Studi kasus di Jawa Barat, Indonesia.
Konflik yang terjadi antara penelitian dan penyuluhan, baik yang bersifat struktural maupun operasional ternyata frekuensinya
cukup rendah. Koordinasi yang kurang baik, ketersediaan teknologi yang kurang relevan, kebijakan internal dan eksternal yang
tidak konsisten serta beragamnya kondisi agroekologi dan sistim produksi dianggap sebagai faktor faktor penyebab terciptanya
suasana yang kondusif terhadap timbulnya konflik struktural. Sementara itu, konflik operasional diperkirakan terjadi karena
adanya konflik struktural, kurangnya sumberdaya yang dialokasikan untuk kegiatan kerjasama dan kurangnya ketersediaan
teknologi yang relevan dengan kebutuhan petani. Dampak dari konflik yang tidak segera diatasi adalah kemungkinan timbulnya
sikap "indifferent" diantara para peneliti dan penyuluh, yang dapat menciptakan persepsi bahwa saling ketergantungan antara
lembaga penelitian dan penyuluhan bukan merupakan hal penting yang harus selalu dibina. Peluang terjadinya konflik antara
penelitian dan penyuluhan dapat dikurangi atau dihindarkan dengan menciptakan mekanisme keterkaitan yang efektif.
Mekanisme tersebut harus ditunjang oleh perangkat administratif dan alokasi pendanaan yang baik, agar kedua lembaga dapat
meningkatkan kerjasama dalam perencanaan dan pelaksanaan program.

Although the need for close cooperation between agricultural research and extension has
appeared to be axiomatic, in most countries this achievement has been the exception rather than the rule.
Rather than operating as a continuum, these services have often acted in ways that reinforce their
separation rather than their mutual support (Cernea, Coulter & Russel, 1985). The World Bank (1985)
indicates that bridging the gap between research and extension is the most serious institutional problem in
developing an effective research and extension system. Previous studies noted that extension workers see
researchers as working in "ivory towers" and producing technologies that are not applicable to the farmers
they work with (FAO, 1984; Samy, 1986). Communication between the two agencies is limited because of
the differences in background, training, experience, responsibilities, institutional setting, status, and
physical location. All of which promote competition and create conflicts or misunderstandings between the
two agencies (Bennell, 1989).
The problem of studying conflicts between organizations is part of the larger problem of
investigating relationships between organizations. Therefore, progress in the former awaits new
development in the latter (Aldrich, 1971). As described by Walton, Dutton, and Cafferty (1972), two types of
conflict that are commonly investigated in inter-organizational relations are structural and operating conflict.
Structural conflict involves rules governing a relationship, whereas operating conflict bears on the
interpretation and application of such principles. The structural conflict occurs over the basic identities and
responsibilities that define a relationship and reflect an inability to establish or to maintain the basic rules
that govern the relationship. A study conducted by Molnar and Rogers (1979) indicates that the
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disagreement and dispute occurred in a relationship could be largely attributed to inconsistent priorities
and responsibilities between groups. In addition, the study also indicates that structural conflict is a
significant source of operating conflict.
Meanwhile, the operating conflict occurs in the process of problem solving in inter-organizational
relationships and reflects disagreements over the task expectations or role performances of a particular
position or unit. This type of conflict may also reflect the continual process of mutual adjustment between
interacting organizations that leads to a better understanding about each other tasks and responsibilities.
Agricultural research and extension agencies in Indonesia are organized as two separate public
institutions under the same ministry. In contrast to the research agencies whose spatial organization are
based on agro-climatic zones, the extension agencies are organized on the basis of provincial
administrative boundaries. Both organizational and institutional barriers lead to weak linkages between the
two agencies (Padmanagara, 1985). Viewing from these perspectives, conflicts or misunderstandings
about their goals and priorities seem to be inevitable. Most studies concerning conflicts between research
and extension has been prescriptive or based on anecdotal evidence or individual cases. A study that can
bring empirical evidence on the subject is required to provide clearer picture about the current situation.
The objective of this study is to examine the perceptions of both researchers and extension
workers in the food crops and horticultural sub-sectors in West Java, regarding the extent to which conflicts
occurred between their agencies.

METHODOLOGY

The study was conducted from January to April 1993 in West Java, by using survey method that
utilized a mailed, self-administered questionnaire. Two samples that consisted of 145 researchers and 79
extension workers were randomly drawn from two target populations. The first population was researchers
from three research institutes (Bogor Agricultural Research Institute for Food Crops, Sukamandi
Agricultural Research Institute for Food Crops, and Lembang Horticultural Research Institute), whereas the
second population was extension workers (subject matter specialists) in West Java.
The questionnaire was designed to obtain information on nine constructs (structural conflict,
operating conflict, integration, coordination, and availability and relevance of new technology,
organizational factor, policy factor, resource factor, technical factor) included in the study. Structural conflict
was consisted of five variables (fund diversion, priority conflict, goals interference, program circumvention
and domain violation). Operating conflict was consisted of five variables (interference, overstatement,
withholding of information, annoyance, and distrust). The other constructs were also consisted of 3-5
variables. Part of the data analysis used composite variables that were obtained from those constructs.
Responses gathered from these constructs were rated on a five point Likert-type scale. The instrument's
reliability was assessed by using Cronbach's Alpha coefficient. The alpha coefficients for those nine
constructs were 0.8437 (structural conflict), 0.8769 (operating conflict), 0.8143 (level of integration), 0.6012
(level of coordination), 0.7799 (availability and relevance of new technology), 0.7628 (policy factor), 0.7985
(resource factor), 0.7454 (technical factor) and 0.8484 (organizational factor). Meanwhile, two open-ended
questions regarding the impacts of conflict and ways of reducing conflicts were also included.
Data were analyzed by using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) program.
Descriptive statistics, multiple regression, and manova were used to analyze information gathered from
close-ended questions. Content analysis was used to analyze responses gathered from open-ended
questions.
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RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Structural Conflict

The statistics for the researcher's regression equation in Table 1 indicated that three of the
independent variables had partial regression coefficients which were significant at least at the .05 level.
The results implied that higher levels of coordination and availability and relevance of new technology were
associated with a lower level of structural conflict. Strong coordination could resolve the existing structural
conflicts and minimize further damage on the relationships between research and extension agencies. The
availability of relevant technologies would provide opportunities for both agencies to interact frequently so
that misunderstanding about each other could be avoided. Meanwhile, the policy factor was found to be the
most important variable contributing to the equation's explanatory power. It seemed to be very unlikely that
a higher level of policy factor (pressures that encourage stronger research-extension linkages) was
associated with a higher level of structural conflict. This might happen if the policies were not facilitated by
necessary supports (funding and operational guidance), so that their implementations created the situation
which was conducive for the occurrence of conflict. This might also occur when researchers perceived that
those exerting pressure, especially external pressure, often did not adequately understand the problems
they wished to see solved; and they might place undue emphasize on short-term problems and on the
symptoms of problem rather than the underlying causes. Under these circumstances, researchers would
respond by resisting those pressures. This resistance might result in an increase rather than a decrease in
structural conflicts between research and extension agencies.

Table 1 Summary of Regression Analysis with the Structural Conflict as Dependent Variable
Independent Researcher Extension Worker
B Contribution B Contribution
to R2 to R2
Integration .078 .066 .099 .009
Coordination .275* .014 -.510* .110
Availability and relevance of new technology -.304* .032 .058 .000
Policy factor .290*** .194 .019 .000
Resource factor .162 .002 -.116 .005
Technical factor .162 .008 .574* .097
Organizational factor -.082 .003 .194 .009
(Constant) 4.727 -5.219
R2 .259 .230
Multiple R .509 .479
F 6.778*** 2.939**
(7,136) (7,69)
* = p < .05. ; ** = p < .01. ; *** = p < .001.

The statistics for the extension worker's regression model indicated the significance of partial
regression coefficients for coordination and technical factor at the .05 level. A higher level of coordination
between research and extension, in terms of program planning and its implementation was associated with
a lower level of structural conflict. Meanwhile, technical factor was found to be positively related to the
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structural conflict. Diversity in agro-ecological condition, diverse production system, unavailability of
support systems, and dispersion of farming population often restrained both researchers and extension
workers to work interactively. Consequently, this might lower the level of coordination between them, which
in turn, might induce the occurrence of structural conflict.
The Hotelling's criterion as shown in Table 2 indicated that researchers and extension workers
differed on the set of five variables being studied. The univariate tests showed that two variables, fund
diversion and priority conflict, contributed significantly to the overall differences. Extension workers
perceived more frequent occurrence of fund diversion (the acquisition of funds which might otherwise had
gone to the target agency) and priority conflict than did researchers. Nevertheless, both researchers and
extension workers perceived that the structural conflicts occurred between their agencies were low.

Table 2 Multivariate Significance and Univariate F-tests on Structural Conflict


1. Multivariate Test of Significance
Hotellings Value = .10176 F(5,218) = 4.44**
2. Univariate F-test with (1,222) DF
Variable Hypothesis MS Error MS F
Fund diversion 4.53 .53 8.55**
Priority conflict 11.48 .92 12.48***
Goals interference .47 .48 .98
Program circumvention .39 .81 .48
Domain violation .35 1.11 .32
* = p < .05. ; ** = p < .01. ; *** = p < .001.

Discriminant analysis summarized in Table 3 was conducted to assess the relative importance of a
given variable to group differences. The Chi-square suggested that the sole discriminant function was
significant at the .001 level. Meanwhile, the squared canonical correlation indicated that 9.2 %
(.30392=.092) of the variability in the discriminant scores was attributable to between-group differences.
The group centroid means showed that group 1 (extension workers) had a positive mean and group 2
(researchers) had a negative mean, indicating that the extension workers had higher discriminant scores
than researchers. The standardized canonical discriminant function coefficients indicated that priority
conflict had the strongest positive weight that would increase the function value. On the contrary, program
circumvention had the strongest negative weight that would decrease the function value. Combining the
information provided by the group centroid means and discriminant function coefficients, the relative
importance of those two variables could be assessed. The extension workers perceived that priority conflict
was the most important variable determining group differences. Differences in priority setting were
considered by extension workers as a major factor that created conflicts between research and extension.
Meanwhile, researchers perceived that program circumvention was the most important variable separating
the two groups. This implied that due to the overlapping interests, some activities of extension workers
which interfered with the research program effectiveness was considered by researchers as the main
component of structural conflict between the two agencies. This might reflect a strong sense of in-group
identity and solidarity among researchers. In such a group, there was a marked overestimation of in-group
achievements and underestimation of out-group achievements. This situation might lead to misperception
and misunderstanding about each other which played an important role in the occurrence of conflict.
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Table 3 Summary of Discriminant Analysis on Structural Conflict
1. Significance Test
Wilks' Lambda = .9076 Chi-square (df = 5) = 21.272***
2. Canonical Correlation
Eigenvalue = .1018 Canonical correlation = .031
3. Standardized Canonical Discriminant Function Coefficients
Fund diversion -.09820
Priority conflict 1.35591
Goals interference -.23511
Program circumvention -.067087
Domain violation -.10881
4. Canonical Discriminant Function Evaluated at Group Means
Extension Worker .43025
Researcher -.23441
*** = p < .001.

Operating Conflict

Statistics generated by the researchers' regression equation indicated that the availability and
relevance of new technology, structural conflict, resource factor, and technical factor had significant partial
regression coefficients. It was suggested that higher levels of resource factor and availability and relevance
of new technology were associated with a lower level of structural conflict. Improvements in the financial
resources allocation, human resources management, and professional attitude in both agencies could
decrease the frequency of operating conflict occurrence. Furthermore, the availability of relevant
technology basically reflected close working relationship between researchers and extension workers which
might minimize conflict. Meanwhile, the existence of structural conflict was found to play the most important
role in inducing operating conflict. This implied that conflict over the fundamental basis of relationship was
perceived to increase the number of conflict over substantive matters that were linked to the larger issues.
The conflicts that could be largely attributed to inconsistent priorities and responsibilities between agencies
might manifest themselves most directly to the operating level.
Statistics for the extension workers' regression equation revealed that the level of integration, the
availability and relevance of new technology, structural conflict, and resource factor significantly contributed
to the equation's explanatory power. A higher level of integration was associated with a lower level of
operating conflict. Thus, joint activities between researchers and extension workers that constituted a high
level of coordination, collaboration, and communication would minimize the occurrence of conflict at the
operational level.
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Table 4 Summary of Regression Analysis with the Operating Conflict as Dependent Variable
Independent Researcher Extension Worker
B Contribution B Contribution
to R2 to R2
Integration .896 .003 -.341 .067
Coordination -.049 .000 .301 .007
Availability and relevance of new technology -.165* .007 -.476 .046
Structural conflict .768*** .603 .535*** .281
Policy factor -.018 .000 .138 .000
Resource factor -.184* .007 -.412* .066
Technical factor .158* .005 .339 .009
Organizational factor -.135 .007 .096 .004
(Constant) 1.213 .108
R2 .632 .480
Multiple R .796 .692
F 28.671*** 8.054**
(8.134) (8.70)
* = p < .05. ; ** = p < .01. ; *** = p < .001.

The results of multivariate test in Table 5 showed that the perceptions of both researchers and
extension workers regarding the five variables of operating conflict were not significantly different. Both
researchers and extension workers perceived that the operating conflicts occurred between their agencies
were low. No further analysis was carried out, since the multivariate test indicated non-significant
differences.

Table 5 Multivariate Significance and Univariate F-tests on Operating Conflict

1. Multivariate Test of Significance


Hotellings Value = .01021 F(5,218) = .44527
2. Univariate F-test with (1,222) DF
Variable Hypothesis MS Error MS F
Interference .39 .70 .56
Overstatement .07 1.05 .07
Withholding of information .02 .80 .03
Annoyance .55 .73 .75
Distrust .01 .86 .01
* = p < .05. ; ** = p < .01. ; *** = p < .001.

Impacts and Solutions

Responses from researchers and extension workers regarding the impacts of both types of conflict
were categorized into three groups. Those were: (a) indifference attitude of indifferent that might lead to the
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perception of interdependence as being insignificant, (b) conflictual avoidance-staff refused to interact with
each other to varying degrees, and (c) conflictual engagement-staff openly engaged in conflict with little
scope of compromise. Researchers mostly perceived conflictual avoidance, and extension workers mostly
perceived indifferent as the impacts of structural conflict. Meanwhile, both researchers and extension
workers mostly perceived indifferent as the impact of operating conflict.
Responses from researchers and extension workers regarding the solutions of both types of
conflict were categorized into three groups. Those were: (a) effective linkages-creating working
mechanisms supported by administrative and budgetary requirements to allow the two agencies in planning
and carrying out more joint programs; (b) managing status differences-creating training opportunities,
improving employment conditions, and changing the benefits; and (c) providing clear division of tasks
putting more emphasis on consistent priorities and responsibilities.

Table 6 Impacts of Conflicts (Structural and Operating) and Suggestions for Reducing Their Occurrence
Structural Conflict Operating Conflict
1. Category of Impacts Researcher (%) Extension (%) Researcher (%) Extension (%)
• Indifference 26.9 48.1 31.0 50.6
• Conflictual avoidance 32.4 46.8 23.4 41.8
• Conflictual engagement 13.1 12.7 26.2 19.0

2. Category of Suggestions
• Effective linkages 44.8 77.2 51.0 69.6
• Clear division of tasks 34.5 43.0 27.6 58.2
• Managing status differences 12.4 26.6 33.1 34.2

The suggestion most often proposed by researchers and extension workers in reducing the occurrence of
both structural and operating conflicts was to create effective linkage mechanisms.

CONCLUSIONS

1. Both researchers and extension workers perceive that structural and operating conflicts occurred
between their agencies are low.
2. Lack of coordination, lack of availability of relevant technology, inconsistent internal and external
pressures, and diversity in agroecological condition and production system are perceived as the main
factors that lead to the conditions which are conducive to the occurrence of structural conflicts.
3. The existence of structural conflicts is perceived by both researchers and extension workers as the
main source of operating conflicts. Furthermore, the availability of resources and relevant technologies
are perceived to be negatively related to the occurrence of operating conflicts.
4. From the five variables of structural conflict (priority conflict, fund diversion, goals interference, domain
violation, and program circumvention), in respective order, researchers and extension workers perceive
program circumvention and priority conflict as the most important variable determining differences
between research and extension agencies.
5. Researchers and extension workers perceive conflictual avoidance and indifference respectively, as
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the most likely impact of structural conflict. On the other hand, both of them perceive indifference as
the most likely impact of operating conflict. Meanwhile, to reduce the occurrence of both structural and
operating conflicts, the most often suggestion proposed by researchers and extension workers is by
creating effective linkage mechanisms that are supported by administrative and budgetary
requirements allowing the two agencies in planning and carrying out more joint programs.

REFERENCES

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continuum for agricultural development. Washington, DC: The World Bank.
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