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.
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This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Nigeria only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.