Key ethical values of successful family-owned businesses in Lagos, Nigeria

Ogbechie, Rose Kambili
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Strathmore University
Family businesses are a common business model and constitute more than 70 percent of the overall businesses of many countries. They contribute to the economic values of nations in terms of growth in GDP and employment creations. Family businesses, especially those in the emerging markets such as Nigeria, have been affected by the challenges of growth and long term sustainability. While some of the family businesses in Nigeria have succeeded and are still growing strong, many others have not managed to survive beyond the first generation. Some scholars have attributed the collapse of some family owned firms to not practising ethical values that they claim negates the sustainability of family owned businesses. However, others have argued otherwise. Thus, this dissertation examines the fundamental ethical values of successful family-owned businesses in Lagos, Nigeria and the relationship between key ethical values and the success of family owned firms. Based on extant literature, a conceptual framework and a set of hypotheses were developed. The ethical values considered in the research include respect for the human person, integrity, commitment, prudence, courage, justice, transparency and industriousness. Furthermore, ethnicity (geographic zone) is presented as the intervening variable to establish if there is a relationship between ethnicity and business performance. Family business success for the purpose of this study is defined by longevity, the practise of ethical values and sales revenue. Performance was measured by sales revenue. Quantitative data sourced from questionnaires, administered to the owners or founders of 20 family businesses, was analyzed using the Statistical Packages for Social Sciences (SPSS) software. The study in an attempt to enhance the validity complemented the outcome of the questionnaires with interviews of CEOs of 10 family-owned businesses. The results indicate that integrity is a key ethical value that mostly account for the success of family businesses in Nigeria. It further shows that integrity, as a key ethical value, is practiced by keeping organisational promises to customers and other stakeholders. Furthermore, the study establishes the fact that, integrity is positively and significantly related to the performance of family businesses in Nigeria. In addition, the study reveals that though ethical values such as commitment, prudence, respect, justice and transparency are positively related to the performance of family business, they are insignificant. Courage and industriousness were found to be inversely related to the performance of family businesses. The study concludes that family businesses that practice these ethical values are more likely to be successful and remain in business than those who do not, therefore, it recommends that family businesses should practice these ethical values with more emphasis on integrity, and entrench them in the code and ethics of family businesses.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master's Degree programme in Applied Philosophy and Ethics
Nigeria, Family business, Business, Lagos, Ethics