Impact of cultural environment on the performance of the state civil service.
1.1 Background of the study
The civil service in the developing countries occupy a strategic position in the planning, execution, and the accomplishment of the social and economic goals of the government. This is because they possess a number of attributes, which other agencies lack. These include custody and access to vital information, communication, skill, expertise, organizational resources, as well as experiences. Yet, in spite of all these attributes, increasing gaps exist between their performance and the societal expectations. Its supposed positive attributes, such as objectivity, devotedness, vision and firmness have been undermined by such negative variables as sycophancy, myopia, and cowardice. Numerous problems, such as inefficiency, low productivity, lack of initiative, and unnecessary rigidity in dealing with public issues, prevail.
This dissertation, therefore, seeks to analyze to what extent the cultural environment of Nigeria, and Ebonyi state in particular, has contributed to the above problems, and thus given rise to the continued poor performance in the Ebonyi state civil service, from 1996-2010.
Cultural environment, as used in this research paper, refers to those factors in the Nigerian society, such as the social and the economic systems, political system, the internal organizational patterns, which combine in various ways to affect negatively, the efficiency of the civil service.
Although our research will concentrate on the Ebonyi state civil service, we shall, however, draw evidence from the Nigerian public service where it is necessary. Using the Ebonyi state civil service as a case study, will enable us accomplish a more perceptive study which will not only be of interests to the role of incumbents in the field but may also shade some light on the growing literature on the
weaknesses of bureaucracy in the developing countries. It is significant to note, at this point, that performance, as used in this dissertation, is measured by how well the civil service succeeds in meeting its goals. The civil service is the term used to describe servants of the state or the central government employed as civilians. It does not cover ministers or cabinet members or the Judiciary. The civil service has been described as a branch of the bureaucracy which is a system of authority, men, offices and methods that government uses to carry out its programmes. Although the term bureaucracy is sometimes used cynically to denote resistance to change, it has been used in this dissertation to refer to a system of complex organization, made up of a vast number of technical and hierarchical roles, used to carry out policies usually made by others. It differs from nation to nation, reflecting the values and institutions of the society it serves. In some societies, it is ambivalent, exhibiting a tendency towards power and growth, and a resistance to change. One of the most helpful theoretical models for studying bureaucracies, such as the civil service, is the ideal- type concept set down by Max Weber,a German sociologist. However, his generalizations must be applied with caution.
The following generalizations provide a rough outline of the bureaucratic model, Max Weber,
Officers are organized on hierarchical basis.
There is a rationalized division of labour and each position is accompanied by the legal authority necessary to accomplish its goals.
Rules and regulations as well as decisions are formulated and recorded in writing.
Management is separated from ownership. There is no property right to office. Special competence and training are required of the administrative class. Members are selected competitively on bases of competence and qualification. Each office has a clearly defined sphere of competence in the legal sense. The above Weberian or classical model applies essentially to the civil service of the developed countries such as U.S.A, Germany, Britain and France. Although the ideals have been, to a large extent, obtainable
in the developed countries, they have in practice, become difficult to achieve in the developing countries. Moreover, the colonial civil service was more elitists, more authoritarian, more aloof and more paternalistic. Remnants of these traits have inevitably been carried over to the successor civil services in the new states. There is evidence of the carryover of deep seated values from the colonial civil service which have not been modified or abandoned despite adoption of non-traditional social structures. In some cases value is attached to status based on ascription rather than achievement. Personnel processes are affected by these considerations even though the form of a merit system are outwardly observed. Similarly, non-merit considerations greatly influence promotions, assignments, dismissals and other personnel action within the service. Corruption on a large-scale ranging from payment of bribes for minor transactions, to bribes of impressionable dimensions is a phenomenon that is prevalent. Another significant practice is that of using the civil service as a way of relieving the problem of unemployment. There is wide-spread gap between form and reality. In short, the gap between expectation and actuality is marked by laws that cannot be enforced. Such things as adopting personnel regulations that are quietly by-passed or delegating administrative discretion, while keeping tight control on decision making, are also common. It must be pointed out, however, that this is not peculiar to developing states, but it can also be found in developed societies.
1.2 Statement of the problem
A close study of the activities of the civil servants shows that the public service rules and the constitution, had been substantially set aside. Files could no more be treated without inducement. In a society such as ours, the growth of the bureaucratic power of the civil service has attracted many problems.
The problem of political interference in the activities of civil service has brought about, godfatherism, favoritism, corruption and ethnic barrier which prompted poor performance of civil service. The absence of adequate and accurate information to the civil service has led to civil servants putting round peg in a square hole.
There are problem of poverty among the civil servants in the state, which has led to some unwholesome act, including negative tendencies toward accountability. The present poverty eradication programme of the government is mostly inadequate to create condition for self-reliance, integrity, and dignity of labour. The structure of Nigerian civil service and Ebonyi State civil service in particular has brought negligence of duty and misbehaviour among workers, the civil service is seen as a place where workers spend most of their time reading magazines, and newspapers with little or no work to do. This intolerable condition has gone a long way to destroy the image of the civil service. And unfortunately, most employees that join the service with this impression find it difficult to erase it out of their minds.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The broad objective of this study is to examine the impact of cultural environment on the performance of the Nigerian civil service, using Ebonyi state civil service as a case study. Realizing the prospects of civil service in the development of any developing country such as ours, the fundamental question that arises is how can the dynamic role of this civil service be more effective. The specific objective of this study are to:
- find the extent to which political interference in Ebonyi state civil service contributes to poor performance of civil service.
- find out the extent the economic system of Nigeria and Ebonyi State in particular contributes to the poor performance of Ebonyi state civil service.
- ascertain the extent to which internal organization patterns of civil service contribute to poor performance of the Ebonyi state civil service.
The analysis of the problems may be informed more by the following hypotheses:-
(i) H1: That the poor performance of the civil service is as a result of pressures from the wider society and these could come from the families, cultural associations, communities and friends.
(ii) H1: Lack of dedication to work is as a result of God- fatherism, poor motivation, poor orientation and inadequate supervision by the top hierarchy.
(iii) H1: The low level of economic development generate bribery and corruption, ethnicity and nepotism.
(iv) H1: Inadequate technological skills and equipment lead to inefficiency in the civil service.
It is significant to note at this point that performance, as used in this paper is measured by how well the civil service succeeds in meeting its goals.
1.5 Significance of the study
The Study will widen the knowledge of the researcher on the causes of poor performance of civil service and also expected to lay bare on the evil effect of cultural environment, which will enable the researcher, as a civil servant and other public office holders to keep cultural environment factors on check. This study will also create awareness which will be of great academic contribution to the management science disciplines. It is also an attempt to provide some information, which may guide the authorities in policy formulation, especially in their efforts to curtail the excesses of the civil servants in their dealings with the masses that require their services.
1.6 Scope of the study
This study is on the impact of cultural environment on the Nigerian civil service, a case study of the Ebonyi State civil service. The state was created in 1996. It presently has a population of two million, one hundred and seventy three thousand, five hundred and one (2,173,501) (2006 census figure). The people are predominantly farmers. They produce varieties of cash crops. They are known to be the major cultivators of local rice and yam in the south east part of Nigeria. The research study covers the period from 1996-2009. This period is very essential because it showed the time when Ebonyi State civil service took off.
Like any other human endeavor, this research was beset with many problems, which includes: inadequate data base, and lack of financial resource which formed a major problem in carrying out this research. The researcher deemed it necessary, to accomplish the purpose for which this research was embarked upon, and ensure the completion of the research by visiting many libraries and schools.
1.8 Definition of terms
* Civil service
Mustapha (1999) said the term civil service is used to describe servants of the state or central government employed as civilians excluding ministers, commissioner, cabinet members and the judiciary. It is applied to officials serving the state in a professional capacity except for those in the military and the people that work for them.
* Cultural environment
This is refers to those factors in the Nigerian society, such as the social and the economic systems, political system, the physical features, and the communication system, etc.
For the purpose of this research, corruption is a deliberate and conscious pervasion of an official process to fulfill personal advantage.