Dotun Ayeni’s paper titled ‘Temporal contexts and actors vis-a-vis i-deals’ timing and creation: Evidence from Nigeria’ was accepted by the influential journal Group & Organization Management in July 2022 and published on September 26. The journal is an international forum for the latest research and analysis in organisational behaviour, organisation theory, business strategy, and human resources, according to SAGE


Ayeni is rounding up a PhD in Management at Edinburgh University Business School – having obtained a Bachelor’s and two Masters degrees at Ibadan, Lagos, and Edinburgh, respectively. 


‘It is an honour to not only have my first academic paper published by SAGE but also to go on record as the first of such research work not only from my home country Nigeria but from all of Africa. As the world of work continues to change rapidly and the employer-employee dynamic witnesses a reinvention and reimagination, I believe the management field will benefit by paying attention to nuances shaping the African experience of i-deals and its management’. 


The paper, available for free on SAGE Journals, was co-authored by Sara Chaudhry and Maryam Aldossari of Birkbeck University of London and Aston Business School, respectively. An earlier version of the paper was awarded a top 10% paper at the recently-held Academy of Management conference in Seattle and is the only case study research on i-deals in the world. 


Ayeni et al.’s research, conducted for over two years in the UK and locally in Nigeria, examines employer and employee perspectives on i-deals; through the point of view of 62 participants working in three service-oriented organisations. Of the 62 participants interviewed, over 40% reported having negotiated and/or received i-deals either during hire (ex-ante) or after hire (ex-post). In contrast, 100% of all managers interviewed revealed they had granted i-deals to direct reports at one time or the other. The three organisations combined hire over 375 staff and have revenue of over N7 billion. 


The paper presents new perspectives on work arrangements, building on earlier works by the industry’s leading researchers like Denise Rousseau, H.J. Heinz II University Professor Of Organizational Behavior And Public Policy and Matthijs Bal, Professor of Responsible Management at Lincoln International Business School, UK. 


‘Very few empirical studies consider the responses of employers/managers (such as HR managers, supervisors and top management teams) to temporal constraints that may limit i-deals. Our more expansive consideration of organisational actors that explicitly included employers/managers highlights that a range of tactics such as delaying timing, offering alternatives, taking charge of negotiations and initiating i-deals are strategically deployed by these agents to (re)construct temporal constraints. For example, strategies involving delay may involve a promise of future i-deals’, writes Ayeni and co-authors in the 16,000-word paper.


Commenting on the paper, Michelle O’Toole, Head of the Organisation Studies Group at Edinburgh University  Business School, says, ‘as a research-intensive Russel Group University, we are proud of the innovative and exciting research carried out by our esteemed Doctoral colleagues. Our PhD programme supports each of our candidates to produce world-class research, thus providing them with skills for the future to pursue whatever path they choose. This paper, led by Dotun, is significant as it sheds light on a context that has, hitherto, received little research attention and demonstrates our support for research diversity – in particular, the potential to offer insights into issues that affect the African continent’.


Yannick Griep, Editor of Group & Organization Management (GOM) adds: ‘We are happy to be associated with this paper due to its significance for African workers and their employers. As an international journal for scholars and practitioners, we offer all scholars an opportunity to share their research, reaching millions of readers worldwide and provoking change’.


Nigeria has the largest population in Africa.  With over 200 million people and over 22 million living in Lagos, its most prominent commercial city, Nigeria is set to surpass the population of the United States in 2050 and the whole of Europe by the year 2100. 


According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s economically active working-age population in the third quarter of 2020 (15-64) stood at 116.8 Million. Although 68%  (80.2 million) are able and willing to work, only 72.8% of this population (i.e. 58.5 million people) hold any form of employment (35.5 have full-time jobs, while 22.9 million hold part-time jobs). The remainder of the population is categorised either as unemployed or underemployed due to reasons ranging from loss of employment and/or being first-time job seekers.


Due to advancements in technology evidenced by increased automation and a growth in demand for employees with skills in the area of critical thinking, data analytics and problem-solving, Nigeria has witnessed glaring skills shortage, so much so that employers are doing all they can to hold on to talent, including granting and offering i-deals.


‘The after-effects of a global pandemic, rapid technological advancements and the growing need for organisations to attract, engage and retain talent have impacted the rise in requests for i-deals. Therefore, employers will increasingly have to rethink how best to personalise the employment experience through i-deals, we-deals or by offering cafeteria-style benefits’, says Ayeni.


Ayeni adds: ‘i-deals have an inherently secretive element, making them delicate to study, understand and address. Our paper offers insights into how dynamics in three key industries in Lagos, Nigeria, impact these negotiations and how employers can navigate them when they arise’. 


*Not real name