You are likely to meet a variety of different business structures in Nigeria — depending on the country of origin of the company you are dealing with.
Subsidiaries of multi-nationals will probably take on many of the characteristics of the parent company but will still have a local flavour.
Indigenous Nigerian companies will, however, have an approach and flavour all of their own. All native Nigerian companies will display massively hierarchical tendencies as befits a country rich in tribal tradition and culture. Thus the boss expects and receives respect from those below them in the structure. As age is highly valued in Nigerian culture, managers are often of the older generation – age brings wisdom.
Although people at a middle-management level will like to give the impression that they have great power in the organisation, they rarely do. Decisions are invariably made right at the top, so try not to waste too much time trying to force decisions out of more junior employees. If possible, go right to the top.
This does not, however, mean that people lower down the corporate structure can be ignored as they may very well be pivotal in influencing the eventual decision-maker. As a relationship-oriented culture, it is important to be seen to be trying hard to develop good relationships at all levels within the organisation.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Nigeria. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.
With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Nigeria and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.
Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics: