Keeping it in the family: exploring Igbo ethnic entrepreneurial behaviour in Nigeria

Our co-authored paper Keeping it in the family: exploring Igbo ethnic entrepreneurial behaviour in Nigeria speaks to the ISBE Entrepreneurship in Minority Groups track which “focuses on the movements and patterns of entrepreneurship in minority groups, processes of evolution, growth and crises of scalability and sustainability.” Indeed the track points out “Entrepreneurship in minority groups continues to be a source of fascination for researchers. The importance of their businesses go beyond their financial contribution, but also have social implications and they share similar business experiences such as breaking out of low value added, overcrowded service sectors and access to finance and markets…”
This study, which is published in International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research (Official ISBE Journal), examined the attributes of the Igbos in Eastern Nigeria and the underlying factors influencing their entrepreneurial behaviour. It specifically highlights the links between family, culture, institutions and entrepreneurial behaviour in this context.
The Igbos have been described as “naturally enterprising and ingenious” and can be found across geographic zones of Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa. Understanding the vagaries of ethnic entrepreneurship can arguably only be achieved through research that is undertaken within these socio-historically rich, traditional and cultural contexts.
Drawing upon social learning theory, the study finds that Igbo families provide an entrepreneurial leadership platform which influences youths through role models, providing mastery experiences and socialisation. The extended family provides a safe environment for risk taking, creativity and innovation. Also, an informal apprenticeship system provides entrepreneurial learning that prepares the younger generation to take to business as a way of life.
The study is, however, based on a relatively small sample size of 50 respondents, which makes it difficult to generalise its findings on the investigated population of Igbos comprising individuals who may, or may not, behave entrepreneurially.
Nonetheless, there are significant practical implications, both nationally and internationally, for policy makers that are concerned with developing jobs for the growing population of unemployed youths and inclusive entrepreneurship in Nigeria.  Furthermore, the study makes three main contributions. First, it valorises indigenous knowledge of family and institutional entrepreneurial behaviour in an African context. Second, it highlights the importance of the linked institutions of the extended family and the informal apprenticeship system in Igbo culture. Finally, it provides a model and an explanation of how the Igbo culture nurtures and develops transgenerational entrepreneurial behaviour.
How to cite:
Igwe, P. A., Newbery, R.Amoncar, N.White, G. R., & Madichie, N. O. (2018). Keeping it in the family: exploring Igbo ethnic entrepreneurial behaviour in Nigeria. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research. Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.


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