The government versus management controversy: Ascribing responsibility for the failure of a public corporation in Nigeria

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Abstract

Efforts to employ public corporations in African countries to promote development have had limited success. A major controversy has developed over who is responsible for such failure. On the one hand are those who accuse management; on the other hand are those who accuse government. This study seeks to assess the merits of the contending arguments through an analysis of Nigeria'S Cross River State Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC). There is a strong prima-facie case against management. It failed to sustain the enterprise; it failed to produce any profits; it failed to give employees satisfaction in their work; it failed to give strong direction to the corporation; it failed significantly to advance the technology of the ADC; and it made little contribution to the community. But, on close examination, it is apparent that management'S failure was a consequence of structural and financial constraints imposed on it by government. Thus, real responsibility for the failure of the ADC belongs with the government. The reasons for government ‘killing’ its own public corporation are partly constraints imposed on it and partly the opposition of its supporters to public enterprise.

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