EFFECT OF CULTURAL INFLUENCE ON ACADEMIC STAFF PERFORMANCE IN HIGHER INSTITUTIONS

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EFFECT OF CULTURAL INFLUENCE ON ACADEMIC STAFF PERFORMANCE IN HIGHER INSTITUTIONS

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the Study

Culture is one of the vital factors with which any organization interacts. It is the way of life of people; the sum total of learned beliefs, values, motivations, leadership and customs or artifacts that serve to direct individual behaviour of members of a particular society, (Peretomode, 2012). Hofstede, (1991) observes that culture exists in different dimensions, such as foreign, national, local, and organizational. Organizational culture has been discovered to have the potentials to enhance workers, performance, generally, and societal values, organizational commitment, creativity, job satisfaction, and interpersonal relationships among workers, in particular, (Cotter, 2012). Thus, it is the wish of the management of any organization to have her employees identify with the values, norms and artifacts of such establishment, (Olu, 2009).

Even though organizational culture and workers’ performance are clearly related, (Kopelmon, Brief and Guzzo, 1990), the evidence regarding the exact nature and degree of this culture-performance relationship has not been consistent over time, (Denism, 1990: and Sorenson, 2002). Researchers such as Daniels (2004), and Piercy, Low and Cravens (2004) have recognized that culture is a main source of difference in performance in organizations. Many studies have been conducted on culture-performance relationship in developed countries of the world with little done in developing ones. For instance, Farashahi Hafso and Molz (2005) have discovered that 95 percent and 5 percent of such studies are in favour of developed and developing nations, respectively, inspite of the highly dynamic environments. Thus, a number of scholars have questioned this unfortunate situation and have called to investigate this phenomenon in different cultural contexts.

At the national level, (In Nigeria for instance) the same challenge of lack of empirical records or studies exist among the minority ethnic groups such as Idoma of Benue state. Many of such studies have focused on the three major ethnic groups which include: the Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa. Ewurum (1991) identifies the existence of over two hundred ethnic groups in Nigeria from the 1951/52 census. Aluko (2003) opines that, sociological speaking; Nigeria is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious and pluralistic nation that does not have a homogeneous or national culture. Therefore, the definition of Nigerian culture based on the three major ethnic cultures of the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba at the expense of the local or minority ethnic culture would be wrong (Ibid, 2003). To overcome this challenge, Ewurum (1991) advises Nigerians to divert focus from a national level search to one that seeks to explain the specific cultural characteristics of different cultural areas in Nigeria, as the first step towards homogeneous circle in Nigeria, which system could be rationalized for national level application.

Faced with the above challenges, the objectives of this study, therefore, is to investigate the effect of Idoma cultural influence on academic staff performance in Higher Institutions in Idoma Land, or among the minority ethnic groups in Nigeria. The findings and subsequent recommendations will no doubt enrich the knowledge of policy makers of the possible reactions, if their policy formulation and implementation affect people’s culture. In addition, the search for national culture for Nigeria would be realized, because, window of opportunity for the study of the cultures of other minority ethnic groups will be opened.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

One of the problems identified by this study is the lack of empirical records on this relationship in developing countries like Nigeria in general, and among the minority ethnic groups like Idoma in particular. This has been discovered to be due to inadequate empirical studies at these levels, leading to some socio-cultural challenges such as the lack of national culture, the extinction of Nigerian cultures, the inability to have a Lingua Franca, amongst others.

Farashi (2005) discovered that (95) percent of such studies on the relationship were conducted in the developed countries, while only (5) percent in the developing ones like Nigeria. At the local level, Ewurum (1991) advised Nigerians to divert focus from a national level search to one that seeks to explain the specific cultural characteristics of different cultural areas in Nigeria, which system could be rationalized for national level application. This indicates that enough studies have not been conducted at the local level or among the minority ethnic groups like Idoma among others. This has compounded the problem of lack of empirical records in Nigeria.

There is, therefore, the need to carry out more empirical studies at both the national and local levels to generate enough empirical records on this relationship. Secondly, there are arguments or controversies about the nature of this culture-performance relationship. Boddy (2002) observes that culture can either encourage an employee to give out his/her best, or can discourage or demoralize him/her, which can be dangerous for the performance of the organization. Many researchers concur on the fact that there is no agreement on the precise nature of the relationship between culture and performance (Olu, 2009). Thus, empirical evidence emerging from various studies about the effect of culture on performance have so far yielded mixed results that are inconclusive and contradictory (ibid, 2009).

Because of these contradictory results, the question of whether culture improves or worsens employees’ performance is still worthy of further research. Closely related is also the need to investigate those cultural elements like the belief system, traditional leadership style, the life style and other factors that actually influence workers’ performance in higher institutions in Idoma Land. Understanding culture-performance relationship at this local level will help in the journey towards having a credible national culture for the multi-cultural Nigeria as advocated for by Ewurum (1991).

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of the study was to investigate the effect of cultural influence on academic staff performance in higher institutions in Idoma Land, Benue State, Nigeria.

The specific objectives, however, include:
i. To determine the effect of Idoma belief system on societal values in higher institutions in Idoma Land.
ii. To find out the effect of traditional leadership style on organizational commitment in Idoma Land.
iii. To ascertain the effect of life style on creativity of academic staff in higher institutions in Idoma Land.

1.4 Research Questions

This study is poised towards providing answers to the following questions:
i. What is the effect of Idoma belief system on societal values in higher institutions in Idoma Land?
ii. What is the effect of traditional leadership style on organizational commitment in higher institutions in Idoma Land?
iii. What is the effect of Idoma life style on creativity of academic staff in higher institutions in Idoma Land?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

The under listed hypotheses were formulated to guide the study:
i. Idoma belief system has positive effect on societal values in higher institutions in Idoma Land.
ii. Idoma traditional leadership style has positive effect on organizational commitment in higher institutions in Idoma Land.
iii. Life style has positive effect on the creativity of academic staff in higher institutions in Idoma Land.

1.6 Significance of the Study

The study is significant to students, other researchers and the general public by providing them with information or reference materials. The findings and recommendations have created the need for other researchers to carry out further studies on Idoma culture, or on the cultures of other minority ethnic groups in Nigeria. Such studies should help Nigeria in the search for homogeneous or national culture. The findings and recommendations should also help policy makers of both organizations and governments. Management of organizations will know the effects of culture on their workers’ performances and the need to effectively use culture as tool to enhance performances. Policy makers in governments, at all levels, will know the implications of their policy formulation and implementation on workers’ performance, especially, such policies that affect workers’ core culture such as religion, ethnicity, norms and beliefs. The conclusions will also help the management of organizations, government policy makers and practitioners’ to evaluate their existing or current systems or policies, as well as, formulate new strategies for the growth and survival, with due regard to the peoples’ culture.

1.7 Scope of the Study

(a) Geographical Scope:
This study is restricted to four higher institutions in Idoma Land of Benue State. The institutions include: The Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo; the Benue State College of Education, Oju; Apa College of Education, Aidogodo; and Unity College of Education, Aukpa-Adoka.
(b) Time Scope: The Study covers the period between 1976 to 2013
(c) Theoretical Scope:
Theoretically, the study is anchored on three theories of culture, namely: the Goal-setting theory of culture, the Social Learning theory of culture, and Hofstede National culture Model.

1.8 Limitations of the Study

There was difficulty in sourcing for information as the result of the scanty data base. This was due to the fact that only few (if any at all) researches have been carried out, particularly on this topic before. In addition, most of the elderly persons who would, give first hand information on Idoma culture were no more alive. There were also uncompromising attitudes and suspicions on the part of the respondents in volunteering information. There was also the problem of time constraint. Time became the greatest enemy as it had to be rationed out among other numerous competing demands for it. At the end, the researcher was left with little time for the research work.

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