The study is on strengthening the competitive advantage of rural business through quality and environmental management system. Business in the rural areas are facing severe challenges with industries closing by the day as a result of inability to cope with competition arising from products from domestic and foreign companies which are cheaper in price and of better quality. The objectives of the study  are to determine the extent of competitive advantage impact on rural business quality and environmental management system; to highlight competitive advantage factors that affect sustainability of rural business; to identify competitive advantage strategies that are used in strengthening rural business; to identify the key challenges of competitive advantage in strengthening rural business and to ascertain the extent to which corporate social responsibility improves competitive advantage of rural business.The study was centred in five states of South Eastern Nigeria selected through stratified sampling technique. The methodology of the study was descriptive survey research design. The instruments used for data collection were the interview and questionnaire, structured in line with 5 point likert scale. A sample size of six hundred and fifteen (615) was obtained from a population of nine hundred and ninety nine, (999). The findings indicated existence of a significant impact of competitive advantage on rural business quality and environmental management system; competitive advantage factors affect sustainability of rural business; competitive advantage strategies strengthen rural business; there are challenges facing competitive advantage in strengthening rural businesses, and corporate social responsibility improves competitive advantage of rural business. The conclusion of the study is that application of knowledge and technology, productivity, satisfaction of customer, infrastructure, government policies and corporate social responsibility are basic ingredient that strengthen rural business and ultimately guarantee competitive advantage. The recommendations of the study include: knowledge and technology application in the operation of rural business; satisfaction of customers as the purpose of rural business; control of waste that pollute the environment and government provision of enabling environment.



1.1      Background of the Study

The human resources is unique in yet another significant way. This study is considering how effective human resources management constitutes an essential ingredient for harmonizing and seeking to match the expectations needs and objectives of the employees, with those of the organization on a continuous basis. In view of this development, organizational life requires at least some degree of co-ordination through operation of groups and team work. Teams are increasingly becoming the primary means for organizing work in contemporary organization.  Robins and Judge (2007:306) state that understanding of the nature, impact of groups and teams and their effects is vital if the manager is to influence the behavior of the people in the work situation. Therefore mangers must be aware of the impact of groups and teams and their effects on organizational performance.

Mahajam (2011:486) state that a team is a small number of people with complementary skills, who are committed to common purpose, a set of performance goal, and an approach for which they hold themselves accountable. Team building and team management is very necessary as many tasks can only be completed successfully by cooperating with others. Good communication with the team is vital to ensure common understanding; contribution of every person is valued and trusted. Besides, team members have responsibilities which include supporting, encouraging each other, demonstrating trust and respect. Teams are more successful in implementing complex plans, develop more creative solutions to difficult problems, they develop the saving approach to problem solving. This is why we have a popular saying that “two good heads are better than one”.  Nelson and Quick (2005:178) differentiates between groups and teams by stating that all work teams are groups, but not all groups are work team, Groups emphasize individual leadership, individual accountability, and individual work products. Work teams emphasize shared leadership, mutual accountability and collective work product.

Mahajam (2011:487) agrees that a group is essentially an assemblage of two or more persons who interact with one another, are psychologically aware of one another, and think of themselves as a group while a team is a group whose members influence one another toward the accomplishment of individual work whereas members of a team are collectively responsible for team work. Organizations are restructuring themselves to compete more effectively and efficiently, they have turned to teams as a better way to use employees’ talent.

Ilgen (1999:199) says that team efforts are required in many organizations (example; government agencies, aviation operations, military organizations, schools, police departments, sports institutions and hospitals) to meet their missions and goals. Boone and Kurtz (2005:349) confirms that team work is vital in business and many other areas. Teams can perform difficult and complex tasks, motivate their members effectively, and in some cases outperform individuals (Foushee 1984:162) than in the culture that is highly individualistic. Orasanu and Fisher (1997:216) agree that teams can be more productive, make better decisions than individuals. Teams can be a powerful organizational tools when organized, designed and managed correctly.(Guzzo and Dickson 1996), Ugbam,(2011:336) is of the opinion that teams emerge when a number of people have common goal and recognize that their personal success is dependent on the success of others. According to Mclntyre and Salas (1995), team work is a critical component of team performance and requires an explanation of how a team behaves. They mention fours keys behavioral characteristics that compose teamwork as follows:

  • Performance monitoring
  • Feedback
  • Closed-loop communication
  • Back-up behaviors

Teams have emerged as the corner stone of many organizations in recent times, and organizations are restructuring themselves to compete more effectively and efficiently. Oluwole (2010:14) asserts that working together as a team for common purpose is the foundation of all successful management and also that a true team is a living, constantly changing force in which a number of people come together to work. Robbins and Judge (2007:338) are of the view that teams have the capability to quickly assemble, deploy, refocus and disband. By this nature of team, management has found that teams are flexible and responsive to changing than are traditional departments or other forms of permanent groupings. Team is an important consideration in employee recruitment and training because it encourages employee to pool their talents and ideas to achieve more than they could achieve working as individual (Kreitner and Kinicki, 2004:447). The essence of a team is common commitment and work teams are created for various purposes and thus face different challenges. Manager’s can deal more effectively with those challenges when they understand how teams differ. Sundstron, DeMeuse and Futrell (1990:125) list four general types of work teams as; advice, production, action and project teams. They maintain that each of these work teams identifies a basic purpose as thus; Advice Team- generally make recommendations, in contrast production and action teams carry out management decisions while project teams are involved in problem solving and application of specialized knowledge.

Oluwole (2010:7) states that teams detect flaws and find solutions to it. He further assert that teams are more successful in implementing complex plans, develop   more creative solutions to difficult problems, they develop time saving approach to problem solving. It is of interest to note that a good team of husband and wife will raise good children to make a good family and also a good family will produce a good community. In the same direction, a good team will make a good organization and a good organizational team can be an invaluable asset to the organization and society in general. Nzewi (2006:14) states that a bad team can break the internal structure of the organization. Robbins and Judge (2010:351) state that successful organizations are good at building teams and exploiting team work. They maintain that people need to be able to work in team; they need to subordinate their own agenda to the well being of their group. The most important strategies or strategy for building and managing teams for optimum performances is to ensure that roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and well understood by everyone in the organization

(www. building-strategies-and your organiztions/-Acessed 28 sept 2011).

Parker (1990:147) asserts that team building is an organizational development strategy that is often used in organization to make work groups more cohesive, committed, satisfied and more productive. In agreement to this Onodugo and Igwe (2010:95) maintain that team building is one of the key comparatives for a successful organization. To Moorhead and Griffin (1995:481) team building has to do with organized members of organization working together in a spirit of cooperation and generally has one or more of the following goals:

  • To set team goals, priorities, or both.
  • To examine the way a group is working, [i.e. to examine process such as norms, decisions, decision making and communications].
  • To examine relationships among the people doing their work.      

  In building successful teams Mckee (2005) suggests that one of the most significant thing required for success is team-building and maintenance of leaders that can challenge, motivate, and empower their teams. Robbins and Judge (2010:361) stress that whatever the debate about a comparison between individual and group or team performance or self managed groups, effective team working is of increasing importance in modern organizations. This demands that the manager must be aware of and pay attention to a number of interrelated factors which includes;

  • Clarification of objectives and available resources
  • Organizational processes and clarification of roles
  • Empowerment, decision-making and channels of communication
  • Social processes and informal organization
  • Managements system and style of leadership
  • Training and development

1.2       Statement of the problem

Managing human resources is complex and problematic. People as individual or as members of a work group do not automatically embrace, and take as their own, the objectives of their organization that employs them as workers. As psychologists have empirically shown, individuals often have their own aspirations, expectations and needs (objectives), which they often seek to satisfy by working for a chosen organization. People as individuals bring their own perceptions, feelings and attitude toward, the organization, systems and styles of managing their duties and responsibilities, and the conditions under which they are working. Invariable, these individual objectives, which are known to influence employees’ behavior at work, may conflict with the corporate objectives of the organization.  The increasing popularity of teams is due to their ability to achieve goals that could not be achieved by the individuals working alone. To establish a productive environment and exploit group dynamics, it is of essence to react to the issues such as what makes a good team, setting up an effective team, improving team efficiency in workplace, how to reward teams and paying for performance. It is worth noting that  there are many organizations that have historically nurtured individual accomplishment therefore one substantial barrier to using work teams is individual resistance hence difficulties may arose when organizations want to introduce teams into a work population that is made up largely of individuals born and raised in individualistic society.  This study is necessitated by the challenges of harmonious working relationship and ineffective team work that appears to be in higher   institutions in Enugu State, Nigeria. Also, there is need to tackle the obvious challenge of creating team plays in the culture of highly individualistic people and also combating the challenges of teams being introduced into an established organization that has historically valued individual achievement. Universities and colleges are expected to produce people with high technical, civil and management abilities that will productively work in teams within their environments.

The positive pay offs from teams are dependent upon a number of variables- people, and organization-related variables. Of all the variables probably the most fundamental ingredient of team effectiveness is trust. Trust, a belief in the integrity, character or ability of others, is essential if people are to achieve anything together in the long run. When team members trust one another, there will be a more active exchange of information, more interpersonal influence and hence greater self control. Managers can build trust through communication, support, respect, fairness, predictability and competence. Working productively in team environment is required of high technical, civil and management persons. Universities and colleges are expected to produce such persons. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find motivated and intelligent new hires to meet the challenges of steering Nigeria’s development. An innovation must be identified, tried out and used within Nigeria tertiary institutions to effect an urgent change. The appreciative inquiry and group strategy was identified, and tried out at Nnamdi Azikiwe University as an effort to finding solution to the problem. To perform well as a team members, individuals must be able to communicate openly and honestly, to confront differences and resolve conflicts and to sublimate personal goals for the good of the team. For many employees, this is a difficult-sometimes impossible-task. The challenge of creating team players will be greatest when

  1. The culture is highly individualistic
  2. The teams are being introduced into an established organization that has historically valued individual achievement.  

However, today’s managers are constantly been faced with leadership challenges of team management skill that will help them achieve the desired results such as attracting and retraining talented professionals that will build a lasting legacy for the organization. The problems here in the performance of higher institution in Enugu State, Nigeria that also necessitated this study are traced back to the common management mistakes that negatively impact on team work. They are: weak strategies, creating hostile environment for teams, faddish use of teams, not learning from team experience, vague team assignments, poor team staffing, inadequate training and lack of trust. It is vital that  when hiring team members, in addition to the technical skills required to fill the job, care should be taking to ensure that candidates can fulfill their team roles as well as technical requirements. Many job candidates don’t have team skills. This is especially true for those socialized around individual contributions. In established organizations that decide to redesign jobs around teams, it should be expected that some employees will resist being team players and may be unattainable. Few trends have influenced employee jobs as much as the massive movement to introduce teams into the work place. The shift from working alone to working as teams requires employees to cooperate with others, share information, confront differences and sublimate personal interest for the greater good of all. Because individualistic organizations and societies attract and reward individual accomplishment, it is more difficult to create team players in this environment rather managers should try to be effective team players, provide training to develop team work skill and reward individuals for cooperative efforts.

 In deciding on what style of team is appropriate for an objective, two types of team are considered:  formal and informal teams. Formal teams are fundamental to organization-whether internal audit units or account office staff of an institution. Formal support teams provide internal expert administration back-up in their own field. Throughout all organizations, casual groupings of people come together to work on informal basis. Informal teams can be formed on an adhoc basis to deal with many needs. Such like temporary task forces dealing informally with specific short-term tasks and issues. The issue of balancing skills within a team is obvious hence acquiring the right mix of experience in a team can be more difficult than finding the basic skills, but is vital if the team is to be effective. Encourage each team member to make their own individual contribution, both on technical and a personal level. Another issue is setting goals for a team. What is your team for?  The question may sound obvious, but time spent at the beginning of a project in defining team objectives is crucial to a successful outcome make sure that you have clearly established the issues that the team needs to resolve. To maximize performance, a team however must work together successfully, and responsibility must go beyond the individual. Award the team total responsibility for achieving its own goals. Create a sense of responsibility in each individual so that they are happy to fulfill their allotted task to the best of their ability. Team members not only solve problems, they also create them. It is vital to build up loyalty between team members so that all difficulties, whether personal, work related, or procedural, are tackled before they undermine the collective team spirit.

1.3       Objectives of the Study

The general objectives of the study is to unveil how team management could be used as effective tool for organizational performance selected high institutions in Enugu States, Nigeria. While the specific objectives are:

1.         To ascertain the effect of participative Leadership on goal attainment.

2.         To determine the effect of shared responsibility on workers’ morale.

3.         To ascertain the effect of alignment of purpose on employee satisfaction.

4.         To determine the effect of communication on control over organizational environment.

1.4       Research Questions

1.  To what extent does participative leadership in team management affect goal attainment?

2.         To what extent can shared responsibility affect workers’ morale?

3.         To what extent does alignment of purpose in team management affect employee satisfaction?

4.         To what extent does communication affect control over organizational environment?

1.5       Research Hypotheses

To realize the objectives of the study and provide answers to the research questions, the following hypotheses have been formulated to guide the study.

  • Participative leadership in team management to a large extent positively affects organizational goal attainment.
  • Shared responsibility to a large extent significantly affects workers’ morale.
  • Alignment of purpose to a large extent significantly affects employee performance.
  • To a large extent communication positively affects control over organizational  
  • environment.
  1. Significance of the Study

The Study will be beneficial as follows:

  1. To The Institutions of higher learning: It will enable the management of Institutions to adequately harmonize the activities of their various faculties or schools, departments, divisions and units for a better result.
  2. Social cultural groups and politicians: It will enable them to harmonize their activities.
  3. Legal practitioners:  It will help them to come together to handle difficult cases and issues.
  4. Researchers:  Researchers could as well find the work very useful for further investigation.

1.7    The Scope of the Study

A study of this nature ought to be conducted in all Higher Institutions of Learning in south east. This implies that it is a broad area that needs extensive attention which only one study cannot offer.

However given the limitations experienced due to time, financial constraints and other factors, the scope of the study is restricted to fewer institutions in Enugu State namely, Institute of Management and Technology(IMT) Enugu, Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) and Enugu State  College of Education Technical(ESCET). The study covers 2010-2014.

1.8   Limitation of the Study

Prominent among the factors that impeded the effective conduct of the study include:

  1. Finance constraints: the period was characterized by non payment of salary and high cost of living standard resulting from election and fuel scarsity.
  2. Attitude of respondents:  Some respondents feel indisposed to freely give out information regarding their organization as a result of poor opinion and misconception about research. Inspite of all these barriers, the researcher still employed some diplomacy to elicit the needed information.

1.9       Operational Definitions of Terms

For the purpose of clarification and understanding, the following operational definition of key terms is made for this study.

Cross Functionalism:  They are team made up of technical specialists from different professional areas.

Group:  This is defined as two or more individuals, interacting and independent, who have come together to achieve particular objective (Mullins 2010:334).

Management Team: They consist of managers or heads of departments from various functions, they coordinate work among teams.

Performance:  Refers to an accomplishment, execution, carrying out, and working out of anything ordered or undertaken.

Problems-solving Team:  This refers to a temporary combination of workers who gather to solve a specific problem and then disband.

Self- Management Team:  This refers to groups of employees granted administrative oversight for their work.

Team: – Is aggregation of persons who are committed to a common purpose, or assemblage of people who play a game against another group.

Team Building: This has to do with experiential learning aimed at better internal functioning of groups.

Team Cohesiveness: -the extent to which team members feel attracted to the team and motivated to remain part of it (Boone and Kurtz 2005:336).

Team Norm: -Informal standard of conduct shared by team members that guide their behavior (Boone et al., 2005:336).

Team work: This refers to the cooperative effort by a group of workers acting together for a common course.

Virtual Team:  They consist of team members who are geographically dispersed but communicate electronically.

Virtuoso Team:  It refers to a team of highly skilled and talented individuals brought together to produce significant change.

Work Team:  They are relatively permanent group of employees with complementary skills who perform day-to-day work of organization.

1.10     Brief Profile of Selected Institutions Under Studied         

  • Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu: The Institute was established in 1st July 1973 by the Edict No 10 of 1973 as a result of the felt need for a Higher Institution of learning to upgrade the training need in Technological and Management Education in Nigeria. Structurally, the Institute is organized in Schools Departments which run full-time courses leading to the award of National Diploma and National Diploma.
  • Enugu State University (ESUT), however retained and adopted all the identities of the old Anambra State University of Technology including its main campus, the logo, colour, anthem, philosophy aims and objectives among others.         The University was established as a non residential multi-campus intuition jointly by old Anambra State, made up of Enugu State, Anambra State and Ebonyi State. On establishment, the university which was conceived on a Presidential model after Harvard University made landmarks and stamped its name as the first State University of Technology and first State University in Nigeria with her main Campus at Enugu. Other campuses that are created later were located at Abakiliki, Awka and Nnewi. At inception, only three faculties namely, Engineering, Sciences and Technology were established at the two functional Campuses at Enugu and Awka.
  • The Enugu State College of Education (Technical): The College was established by the Enugu State House of Assembly Law no. 2 of 11th April 2006. The college has five schools namely; school of business education, school of education foundation, school of technical education, school of vocational education and school of science education.
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