University of Leicester
2016AdesanyaAOPhD.pdf (2.54 MB)

Understanding the Rules that Govern Economic Life: A Study of “Business on the Streets” in Lagos

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posted on 2016-08-09, 14:34 authored by Adeolu Oluwaseun Adesanya
This study investigates the rules that govern economic life in Nigeria by exploring the diverse ways business is conducted on the streets of Lagos, the country’s economic hub. It challenges the current hegemonic economic imaginaries in Nigeria to find out what important aspects have been excluded and filtered out from economic practices; what imaginaries have gone unstated or silent, repressed or suppressed, in this specific context. Imaginaries is the way the world is understood, after sense and meaning making. Nigeria has experienced three failed economic development plans, with the current economic developmental model falling apart. The dominant ideology in Nigeria thus far is the purely market-mediated, competitive and profit-oriented pursuit. Therefore, this is a good time to challenge the prevailing economic imaginary. This study makes sense of the lived experience of business practitioners, and the lessons therein. Hence, the significance of this study lies in understanding this lived experience in order to come up with a fitting economic imaginary and this could lead to economic transformation in Nigeria. The researcher conducted a seven-month ethnography study and used discourse analysis procedures to examine how cultural and economic factors interact through an analysis of actors in this urban space. From data gathered, a number of conclusions are offered as to rules that govern economic life in this context. The principal findings are: firstly, sense and meaning making are necessary to give a detailed picture of economic life and, development need not be only economistic in nature. Secondly, the economic ideology which is purely market-mediated, competitive and profit-oriented faces resistance at certain levels in this context hence the repeated failures, but rather an economic ideology which encourages an interdependences of competition mixed with cooperation, profit-orientation, communal and private property ownership will flourish. Therefore, propose a “working” model for development called Competitive Collective Enterprise (CCE). This research bridges the disconnect between international development policy and the actual reality of business on the street.



Cameron, Angus; Lightfoot, Geoffrey

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Management

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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