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The Effect of Igbo Inheritance Culture on Management Succession in Private Indigenous Enterprises in South Eastern Nigeria

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The Effect of Igbo Inheritance Culture on Management Succession in Private Indigenous Enterprises in South Eastern Nigeria.


This study investigated private indigenous enterprises in South Eastern Nigeria within  the context of Igbo inheritance culture. Of particular interest is the continuity and performance of these enterprises.

Many of these enterprises which are important contributors to wealth and employment creation, disappear from the business scene or experience significant decline upon the death or incapacitation of their founders. One issue that can help to account for the scarcity of long-established firms is the crisis of management succession.

This study therefore sought to determine the effect of Igbo inheritance culture on management succession process; determine the effect of Igbo inheritance culture on enterprise continuity; determine the  extent  of  relationship existing between factors associated with primogeniture (first  born);  and  to  determine the effect of gender-restrictive inheritance culture and multiple heirs’ inheritance.

The research was conducted using survey design. The population of the study was 750 owner-founders/managers, middle managers and senior staff from the 44 private indigenous enterprises selected for the study. These 44 enterprises were selected  from  the 436 enterprises that registered with the States’ Ministries of Trade, Commerce and Industry in South Eastern Nigeria.

A sample size  of 511  respondents was drawn from  the population using Tara Yamane’s sample size formula. A stratified  sampling  technique was also used to determine the proportionate allocation of questionnaire to owner-manager, middle managers and senior staff.

The instruments used for data collection were the structured questionnaire, interview schedule and empirical research findings from available related literature. The reliability of the instrument was done through test-retest method. The result gave a reliability index of 0.96, indicating a high degree of consistency.

The data collected from the field were presented in percentages and analyzed with descriptive statistics to answer the research questions while corresponding hypotheses were tested using Z – test statistic at 0.05 alpha level.

The study found that Igbo inheritance culture had a negative effect on  management succession process;

Igbo inheritance culture had a negative effect on  enterprise continuity (the management succession process in private indigenous  enterprises  in South Eastern Nigeria, jeopardises rather guarantees the sustainability or longevity of these enterprises);

Factors associated with primogeniture (first born) rule of inheritance affect management succession process; gender-restrictive inheritance culture had a negative effect on management succession; and multiple heirs inheritance culture had a negative effect on management succession.

The conclusion of the study is that management succession is influenced by the Igbo inheritance  culture.  The principles  and practices under-girding customary inheritance culture in Igbo society constitute inappropriate mechanism for intergenerational transfer of ownership.

Based on the findings of the study, it was recommended that  in order to achieve effective succession  in these enterprises, owner-founders should pay ample attention  to  managing  culture.

The founder should lay the foundation for a successful entrepreneurial succession and enterprise continuity before his old age or ailment; women should be  provided  with equal education and access to managerial positions could raise economic growth by as much as one percent.

The study’s major contribution to knowledge include: model modification or the development of an improved systems’ cybernetic model of the transform of the culture process captioned: MANAGEMENT SUCCESSION SYSTEMS’ CYBERNETIC MODEL.


Title Page            ii

Certification             iii

Approval    iv

Dedication            v

Acknowledgements     vi

Abstract          viii

List of Tablesxiii

List of Figures          xvi


  • Background of the Study 1
  • Statement of the Problem 7
  • Objectives of the Study 7
  • Research Questions 8
  • Research Hypotheses 8
  • Significance of the Study 9
  • Scope of the Study 9
  • Limitations of the Study 10
  • Definition of Terms 11

References                      13


  • Introduction 17
  • Conceptual Framework 17
    • Meaning of Culture 17
    • Meaning of Inheritance Culture 19
    • Meaning of Management Succession 20
  • Theoretical Framework 23
    • Theories of Culture 23
    • The Theories Surrounding Management Succession 27
      • The Common-sense Theory of Succession 27
      • The Vicious-cycle Theory of Management Succession 27
      • The Ritual-scapegoating Theory of Management Succession 28
    • The Models Employed in Management Succession 29
      • Generic Succession Systems 29
      • The Leadership Pipeline Model 32
      • The Acceleration Pools Model 34
    • Theoretical Reviews/Studies 35
      • Succession/Inheritance System in Igbo Society 35
      • Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Management Succession/Inheritance 38
    • Theoretical Perspectives on Inheritance Cultural Factors in Igbo Society 40
      • Primogeniture (First Born) Rule of Inheritance 40
      • Gender-related Issues and Inheritance Rights 41
      • Multiple Heirship Inheritance 43
    • Inheritance System in Igbo Society and Business Enterprise 45
    • Management Succession 47
      • The Importance of Management Succession 48
      • Management Succession Process 50
      • Establishing Ground Rules 51
      • Nurturing/training of Potential Successors 56
      • Selection of Successors/Heirs 57
      • Hand off/transition Process/installation 58
      • Successor/Heir Related Factors 59
      • Willingness of the Successor to take over the Business 6
      • Preparation level of Heirs/Heir Development (Socialization) 62
      • Family Harmony/Inter-generational Relationships 65
      • Description of Successful Transition/Succession Outcome 66
    • Empirical Studies on Management Succession and Business Enterprise 67
    • Empirical Studies on Inheritance Culture and Management Succession                69
  • Primogeniture Rule of Inheritance and Management Succession 69
  • Succession and Gender-Related Cultural Factors 71
  • Multiple Heirship Inheritance and management Succession 72
  • The Historical Development of the Host Environment 74
    • The Origin and the Setting of the Igbo 74
    • The Socio-Cultural and Economic Environment of the Igbo 75
    • Indigenous Private Business Environment 77
  • Model Modification 78
  • Summary of the Review of Related Literature 79

References               84


  • Introduction 100
  • Research Design 100
  • Sources of Data 101
    • Primary Data 101
    • Secondary Data 102
  • Population of the Study 102
  • Sample Size Determination and Sampling Technique 103
  • Description of Research Instruments for Data Collection 105
  • Validity of the Instrument 106
  • Reliability of the Instrument 107
  • Administration of the Questionnaire 109
  • Statistical Methods of Data Analysis 109
  • Confidence Level 110
  • Decision Rule 111

References 112


 Research Objective Four 173

  • Research Objective Five 175
  • Implications of Common Sense Theory for the Owner Founders 176
  • Implications of the Succession Models 176
  • Implications of Inheritance Culture for Human Resource Management 177

References        179


  • Introduction 182
  • Summary of Major Findings 182
  • Conclusion 183
  • Recommendations 184
  • Contribution to Knowledge 185
  • Suggestions for Further Studies 193

References               194

Bibliography                 195

Appendices           214


1.1 Background of the Study

Private indigenous enterprises are a very important part of the Nigerian economy. In virtually every country of the world, private indigenous enterprises are seen  as  an  engine of growth and are among the most important contributors to wealth and employment creation (IFERA, 2003:235; Sharma, 2004:5; Tan and Fock, 2001:123; Ward, 2004:240).

In countries at same levels of development with Nigeria, private indigenous enterprises contribute a much higher proportion to Gross Domestic Product (Oyeyinka, 2010:5).

According to Oyeyinka (2010:6), studies by the IFC in 2003 show that approximately 96% of Nigerian businesses are private indigenous  enterprises.

Private indigenous enterprises represent  about 90% of manufacturing/industrial  sector  in terms of number of enterprises and contribute approximately 1% of total Gross Domestic Product and approximately 14% of total manufacturing contribution to Gross National Product.

From the 1950’s, Nigeria began to make an unprecedented  effort  to  encourage  economic growth and development (Nwachukwu, 2005:16).

According to Nwachukwu, between 1952 and 1959, the government introduced the Aid to Pioneer Industries Ordinance, gave import relief taxation and established the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank Limited to assist entrepreneurs engaged in industrial production, commerce, agriculture, and the exploration of natural resources.


Abakare, C. (2009:5) Ago-Iwoyi Readings in African Thought and Culture, Aguata,Strong Tower Books.

Afghan, N. and Wiqar, T. (2007) “Succession in Family  Businesses  of  Pakistan: Kinship Culture and Islamic Inheritance Law”, International Business and Economics Research Journal, April, 6(4).

Akeredolu-Ale, E.O. (2002) “A Socio-Historical Study of the Development of Entrepreneurship among the Ijebu of Western Nigeria”. African Studies Review 41(3).

 Aina, T.A. (2002) “Culture in the Development Process: The Nigerian Experience”, Scandinavian Journal of Development Alternatives, 8(4).

Alcorn, P.B. (1982) Success and Survival in the Family-owned firms, New York, McGraw-Hill.

Ali, W. (2003) “Muslim Women: Between Cliche and Reality”, Diogenes, 5.

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