Trust, SME internationalisation and Networks A study of three main Nigerian cultural blocs

King Omeihe

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Since the pre-colonial era and across Nigeria’s key spatial cultural groups, indigenous entrepreneurs have developed unique strategies in their exporting activities. Interestingly, the stark reality of Nigeria’s challenging business environment has pushed these entrepreneurs to alternative ways of exporting activities. Thus, they have been able to enhance the structure of exporting trade by fostering stronger regional ties based on family/kinship, culture and religion. Of particular interest is the mechanism of trust, which refers to a set of shared expectations that enable entrepreneurs deal with the uncertainties in their exporting activities. The consensus that trust promotes network relations becomes pertinent in the light of Nigeria’s unique socio-economic landscape, where formal institutional arrangements such as courts and regulations appear to be underdeveloped. Thus, through a rich empirical study of Nigerian SMEs, this thesis highlights the complex phenomena of trust shaping relationships across Nigeria’s three main ethnic blocs.

At a theoretical level, the study draws on two main perspectives: embeddedness and institutional logics as they form the core of the issue at the center. The thesis also draws on complimentary perspectives from entrepreneurship and internationalisation as they presuppose an understanding of entrepreneurial behaviour located within social and institutional contexts. At the empirical level, a qualitative approach guided the investigation of 42 exporting SMEs across the three main Nigerian blocs. Through semi-structured interviews, the findings reveal that entrepreneurs were found to rely on personal trust relationships to address the limitations of weak and deficient state backed institutions. They also mostly relied on indigenous institutions, such as ties to family, chieftaincy and religion, combined with trade associations, in facilitating internationalisation activities. The findings from this study also reveal particular issues of trust building, trustworthiness, distrust and trust repair; especially as it relates to SMEs across Nigeria’s three main cultural blocs. This advantage provided a true picture which reflected the commonalities and differences of trust across the three main cultural blocs and provided a basis for uncovering new aspects of trust research.

In sum, this thesis makes a case by contributing to the theoretical understanding of trust, SME internationalisation and networks relationships. This is in response to the growing concern that entrepreneurial behaviour has to be understood from the context in which it occurs. With this in mind, the paucity of research in this context advances the need to examine trust relationships in uncharted territories such as Nigeria. Slanted more positively, this study therefore has practical and policy implications for enhancing our understanding of trust as it is embedded in culturally specific social relations.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationPaisley
PublisherUniversity of the West of Scotland
Number of pages418
Volume1 & 2
ISBN (Electronic)000000047972975X
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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