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Occupational stress amongst offshore workers in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria

Eziechi, Nuzo N. (2014) Occupational stress amongst offshore workers in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis uses labour process analysis to consider occupational stress in the Nigerian oil and gas industry (OGI). Rather than taking a narrow, positivist/psychological approach to occupational stress, which encourages a focus on workplace-level “problems” and “solutions”, this study drew inspiration from Thompson’s (2003) disconnected capitalism thesis to investigate how various forms of disconnections can lead to stress, thus giving a sociologically grounded investigation into occupational stress. According to this approach, whilst the workplace remains significant as a location for occupational stress, the world “beyond the factory gates” is also viewed as causally significant in determining occupational stress outcomes. The study uses multiple embedded case studies and survey data to explore occupational stress outcomes in the Nigerian OGI. One of the key findings is that the regional political economy, in which oil companies differentially shape the development of Nigeria and the Niger Delta, is important to understanding occupational stress. More specifically, whilst the Nigerian Government and the agencies of the OGI cooperate in the redistribution of oil revenues in relation to capital and National interests, the terms and conditions of the workforce are less favourable when compared to OGI workers elsewhere and comparatively few resources are returned to the Niger Delta. This toxic combination results in various forms of social, geographical and economic disconnectedness, including, in extremis, devastating local pollution and the kidnapping and murder of OGI workers by Niger Delta indigenes. The idea of disconnected capitalism is not novel, as Thompson’s (2003) often cited paper argues: the tie-in between the interests of managers and shareholders can result in HR managers’ failure in making credible commitments to workers. This study broadens the scope of the disconnected capitalism thesis by considering how occupational stress outcomes, in particular, are affected by a range of interacting labour markets, geographical and socioeconomic forms of disconnectedness within a broader political economy framework. Nigerian OGI labour markets included clear distinctions between contract/permanent, expatriate/local, and male/female workers. Contract, female and local workers, in particular, had less favourable terms and conditions of employment and the resultant resentments between workers worsened workplace relations. Individual position in relation to this disconnected labour market was the strongest predictor of stress. At the geographical level, disconnection from home and communities had an impact on stress outcomes, particularly for those who were married and had dependants. Finally, at the socio-economic level, insecurities within in the Niger Delta led to disconnections from host communities and a culture of dependency within Nigeria more broadly were also both sources of stress to offshore workers. Overall, this study offers a ground-breaking attempt to develop a multi-level approach to the study of occupational stress that develops and extends Thompson’s disconnected capitalism thesis. In this case, a triple-bind, between managerial, capital and state interests, created a series of local disconnections that both caused occupational stress and, perhaps more worryingly, apparently undermined the productivity of the industry as a whole. In these circumstances a raft of policy and regulation directed at tackling both the employment conditions of the OGI and Niger Delta environmental and socio-economic concerns is badly needed to tackle the problems of the industry as a whole.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Occupational stress, disconnected capitalism, Labour process, forms of disconnectedness, offshore workers, Nigeria.
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Leeds University Business School
The University of Leeds > Leeds University Business School > Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management (Leeds)
Depositing User: Mrs N.N. Eziechi
Date Deposited: 20 May 2015 08:32
Last Modified: 20 May 2015 08:32
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8925

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