Igbo management philosophy: a key for success in Africa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose: This paper aims to present the Igbo management philosophy as having the potential to bring about success in Africa and propose a framework that comprises a set of values and three key institutions: the marketplace, the family and the apprenticeship system. The paper shows that effective leaders are servant-leaders who sacrifice for others. Design/methodology/approach: This paper relied on earlier and contemporary peer-reviewed, news media and books. These materials offered insight into what Igbos believed, how they behaved and how they historically organized their lives. Materials authored by both African and non-African authors were considered. Findings: The researcher concluded that Igbos developed a management system based on a philosophy that is African, which is different from the Western system. A framework for the Igbo management philosophy is derived from complex interactions of values and institutions in Igbo societies. The researcher finds that a set of values, particularly, the value of sacrifice, is crucial for ensuring effective business leadership. Originality/value: Western influence on management has persisted. However, with the economic rise of China, Asian philosophical thought has taken a more center stage in academic management scholarship. Even though human civilization occurred in Africa, it is perplexing that African management systems are not mainstream. There has been research on indigenous African systems and African management philosophy in general. Previous scholarship has also explored the Igbo culture as a whole and their apprenticeship system; however, to the best of the author’s knowledge, this is the first time a framework for an Igbo management philosophy is proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-314
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Management History
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 18 2020


  • Black people
  • Leadership
  • Management history
  • Oral history
  • Philosophical concepts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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