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How firms strategically navigate informal and formal copyright practices: insights from Nollywood

Uchenna Uzo (Lagos Business School, Nigeria)
Johanna Mair (Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, Germany)
Adedeji Adewusi (Lagos Business School, Nigeria)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 19 August 2021

Issue publication date: 31 January 2023




The purpose of this study is to explain how and why firms configure copyright practices when confronted with state-sanctioned laws and informal customs projected by local ethnic or religious communities.


A multi-case inductive study of four film-producing organizations within the Nigerian film industry (i.e. Nollywood) was conducted. Specifically considered were firms that started their operations around the same time with similar founding conditions, experiences, resources and technical competencies. Field observations and multiple rounds of in-depth interviews were conducted to achieve the research objectives.


The study found that firms adopted dominant or hybrid configurations when interacting with informality and formality. Dominant configurations represent the exclusive adoption of informal copyright practices while hybrid configurations refer to the blended use of informal and formal copyright practices. The second set of findings revealed that each firm’s strategic intent affected the type of interactional configuration that unfolded in the firm. Specifically, firms with social intents tended to adopt dominant configurations, whereas firms with socio-economic intents tended to adopt hybrid configurations.

Practical implications

The study implies that firms may profit from strategically focusing on when and in what circumstances to adopt informality. Strategic intents that blend social and economic rationales may secure more positive interactive outcomes from internal and external stakeholders promoting formality and informality.

Social implications

This study highlights the fact that firms embedded in local religious and ethnic communities use organizational practices to solve social and institutional problems of their members. The copyright practices of these organizations encourage apprenticeship, youth empowerment and entrepreneurship in Nigeria.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study that goes beyond macro-level analysis to investigate the interactional dynamics between formality and informality at the firm, community, and state levels. The study is also first of its kind to use copyright practices as an analytical lens to explore the interaction between informality and formality.



Uzo, U., Mair, J. and Adewusi, A. (2023), "How firms strategically navigate informal and formal copyright practices: insights from Nollywood", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 508-532.



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