Climate Change Adaptation Strategies among Manufacturing Firms in Nigeria

8. 3. 2020

The global climate crisis poses severe threats to governments and businesses across the globe. Both the government and businesses have a role to play in dealing with the specific climate challenges because it affects social, environmental, and economic activities of the society. The role of the government is to devise policies that will help reduce adverse industrial effects of companies on the climate. Businesses, on their part, must come up with internal strategies that will cut the impact of their operations on climate challenges and adapt to the effect of climate crises on their activities. The effect of the global climate crisis is not uniform across countries as well as types of businesses. Every country and industry face peculiar challenges and potential hardship from climate change. Since it is a global phenomenon, there has been a significant interest in climate change researches and its regional impacts. In Africa, the adverse outcomes of the crisis include rising sea levels, increased precipitation, drought, heatwaves, increased air pollution and bleached coral reefs (Zolnikov, 2019). Since global climate crises vary across countries, based on population size, dynamics of the community, environmental context and the predominant industries, the adaptation strategies should reflect the specific challenges of these countries (Marshall, 2010). Climate change adaptation typically consists of deliberate actions to minimize the adverse effects of future environmental changes or problems. The climate change efforts can counteract outcomes related to climate change and work more to anticipate events and responses to it.


The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development identified climate change as crucial for sustainable development. Specifically, Goal 30 calls for actions to reduce climate change impacts while developing a low-carbon economy and improving business resilience. Countries are expected to strengthen their cooperation for enhancing adaptation and bridging the gap between climate science and policy. The climate change effect has adverse consequences on businesses in the form of increasing their level of environmental risk. To be successful companies need to adapt strategies to identify and manage these risks. There have been policy changes around non-financial disclosures to encourage reporting on climate crisis and sustainability issues of companies. For example, the framework for the Integrated Reporting Council emphasized the need to extend environmental risk and sustainability issues in financial reports. The framework stressed the need to detect, identify, measure and mitigate sustainability risks within-firm strategy, policy, and practices (Bernardi, Vetunni & Bertello, 2019).

Some reports have shown that though the global climate crisis and its impact is universal, developing countries like Nigeria will be worst hit because of their low-level coping capabilities (Emodi & Ekene, 2016). Nigeria has made some efforts in the past to tackle the menace of global climate crises. These efforts border on effective management of waste, flood and erosion. In 2015, the federal government initiated the Great Green Wall of the Sahara and the Sahel to plant a wall of trees across Africa to prevent desert encroachment. The initiative was to lead to the implementation of the planting of trees across forty-three local government areas of eleven states in the Northern part of the country where the effect of desertification is much more visible. The government also launched several sensitization campaigns in the form of workshops, seminars and lectures. The campaign informed people about desertification, the control of land, water, and noise and air pollution. The success of the government's efforts is unclear because most state governments do not take the challenge of global climate crises seriously.

Climate change effect in Nigeria is becoming more glaring by the day. Recent estimates show that climate change is expected to lead to a loss of up to 11% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the figure is expected to rise to between 6% to 30% by the year 2050 (Anabaraonye, Chukwuma & Eriobu, 2019). Monetarily, the country could lose between 100 billion and 460 billion US to the climate crisis by the end of 2050. Dollars By implementing adequate adaptation approaches by companies, the figure could be lower. In addition, the developing (low-latitude) countries will suffer severe consequences of climate change due to several reasons. First, by being near the equator, these countries already face warmer temperatures that will be worst in the future. Second, a large proportion of the developing nations' GDP comes from agriculture and other climate-sensitive sectors, and as such, they will witness higher impacts in relation to their GDP (Mendelsohn, 2012). Third, since developing countries have weak governments and inadequate infrastructure and institutions, they may be incapable of establishing the right programs to counter climate change impacts and they lack the wherewithal to support strong markets. These issues raise concern as to the need for immediate adaptation and mitigation strategies at both the macro and micro levels. 

For a long time, the discussion of climate crises revolved around the government and big corporations’ role of governments in cutting down carbon emissions to the environment. Globally, few companies have taken proactive measures and effective approaches over and above that which is required by law, stakeholders and dynamics (Schotter & Goodsite, 2013). 

There is a growing research interest in business response to climate change. However, most of the studies focus on the ecological imbalance of climate effect (Apata, 2011; Hoogendoorn & Fitchett, 2018). Other streams of studies offered exploratory perception on the need for climate change adaptation or the conceptual foundation of the impact of climate change on organizations (Vogel, 2009; Winn, KIrchgeorg, Grifiths, Linnenluecke & Gunther, 2011). Empirical studies that offer insights into the firm-level climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies are scanty (Beermann, 2011; Bui & Villieri, 2017). To date, few studies have investigated the adaptation and mitigation strategies that companies employ as a strategic response to the climate crisis, especially in the context of developing countries such as Nigeria. The aim of this article, therefore, is to answer the question: What climate change strategies do manufacturing firms in Nigeria employ?


The section discusses the concepts of the thesis and explains the theoretical framework. It also conducts an empirical review of literature on the global climate crisis, explains the theories of climate crisis adaptation and mitigation and business processes.

2.1 Climate Change Adaptation Strategies

An adaptation strategy refers to corporate actions in the form of adjustments in response to current and predicted changes (Beerman, 2011). In other words, adaptation entails the organizational responses to the threat of climate change. It also means how an organization adjusts to changes that affect its processes. Mitigation strategy refers to actions taken to reduce the exposure to change (Nelson et al. 2007). From this explanation, it is evident that while adaptation strategy focuses on corporate reactions to change, mitigation strategy is proactive and may involve the use of regulation or technological shifts to prepare for predicted changes. 

Although there is a technical difference between adaptation and mitigation, the two usually go together. For instance, businesses seeking to cut cost and risks associated with the climate may create opportunities for technology firms to provide appropriate solutions. Also, Beermann (2011) notes that the differences between adaptation and mitigation are in the different incentives and benefits of each of them. While mitigation produces public benefits such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emission, adaptation provides a private benefit to the firm by way of improved technology and new and more profitable ways of conducting business. Some authors, however, note that the difference between mitigation and adaptation is insignificant, and mitigation is a subset of adaptation (Zolnikov, 2019). Adaptation, therefore, improves societal wellbeing by adequately preparing for the change in climate change and taking the right measures to minimize the vulnerability of the change in the environment. 

In this study, the words adaptation and mitigation mean the same thing – adjusting a firm's way of doing things to reflect climate changes. This is in line with Fankhauser (2017: p1) who defined adaptation as business strategies in response to the effect of climate to reduce the adverse impacts and enhance its positive.

Early studies (such as Kolk & Pinkse, 2007 and Kim, 2008) attempted to explain the types of climate change adaptation by companies by categorizing the strategies into three: supportive, defensive and neutral. On the one hand, the supportive and defensive measures are active strategies seeking to support measures to reduce emissions and opposition to emission to reduction approach, respectively. On the other hand, the neutral response though appreciative of climate change issues favors voluntary initiative and programs but avoid active engagement in both carbon reduction and policy-making process. However, recent studies investigated the strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation. These strategies are stable (constant), reactive, anticipatory, proactive and creative (Beermann, 2011; Bui & Villiers, 2017). The strategy employed by a company depends on the management's perception of the threat and the cost and benefit of it. 

Organizations employ a stable strategy when the perceived climate threat is low. In this strategy, initiatives to tackle environmental challenges receive little management attention. The proactive strategy is synonymous to a pragmatic approach where the company sees marketing opportunities and identifies consumer needs to develop innovations that match these needs (Stead & Stead, 2008). This strategy is increasingly becoming a popular business option because it could lead to a competitive advantage. In the reactive strategy, the firm does not perceive environmental problems as a strategy option but it requires policy monitoring by the legal and external relations functional areas. Consequently, the process of production remains unchanged because the threat is perceived as low or moderate, with little or no impact on market potential (Bui & Villiers, 2017). 

Companies use the anticipatory approach when they perceive the threat as being moderate or high and therefore participate in the regulatory process. In the creative strategy, the firm perceives that the environmental threats are severe, and they have ramifications on the long-term survival of the firm. The firm also sees opportunities associated with carbon credit policy. The company monitors and enhances its investments in mitigation technologies such as green marketing, green product development, and replacement of the current assets base. Bui and Villiers (2017) note that for firms using this strategy, there should be top-level management commitment, involvement of external participants, and cross-functional collaboration. Despite releasing statements urging private-sector corporations calling for action on climate change adaptation for economic progress, businesses have been criticized for failing to implement robust autonomous and anticipatory strategies (Linnenluecke, Griffiths & Mumby, 2015). This suggests that most business responses are reactionary, which requires policy monitoring.

2.2 Review of Empirical Studies

Previous studies have paid attention to mitigation and adaptation practices and strategies for climate change in several industries including agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, transportation and river basins. Based on the analysis of peoples’ perception in a river basin in Nepal, Devkota et al. (2016) found that people gave more priority technological measures as an effective strategy for the control of drought and flood. The study of Saarinen, Hambira, Atlehopheng and Manwa (2014) used qualitative analysis to assess how tourism industry in Botswana reacts to climate change. Although a significant awareness of global climate change was observed among the interviewees, who were managers of tourism businesses, they did not employ any proactive strategy because they perceive that the danger posed by the change is insignificant. Another reason for the nonchalant attitude of the industry is future uncertainties and the nature of the impact. 

Saarinen and Tervo-Kankare (2006) earlier conducted a study similar to Saarinen et al. (2014), and the study found that there was no adaptation plan for Finnish nature-based tourism companies. The respondents believed that the climate effect would not have an immediate significant effect on their businesses. Alternatively, they had employed a reactive strategy to the normal short-term variability and market changes. The respondents also believed that they are quite capable of adjusting to future climate changes. More specific to the ski industry, Scott (2006) also found, from a focused interview with investors and stakeholders in ski industry, that employing adaptation strategies are not new business strategy. They are. However, additional adjustments of old business strategies aimed at reducing the adverse consequences of climate variability. The stakeholders believed that the perceived risk of climate changes is low and that a reactive measure is useful for short-term contingencies. 

From the studies conducted in the context of the tourism industry, the perceived threat for the industry is low and that a reactive strategy is relevant in the short term. The findings of these studies did not conclude that no companies employ other adaptation plans. In addition, except for Devkota et al. (2016) and Saarinen et al. (2014), the studies are relatively old. It is likely that with the new enlightenment and more scientific evidence on the climate crisis, the participants may hold a different view.

Fleischer, Mandelsohn and Dinar (2011) found that complementing bundling crops and supporting technologies are the strategies employed in the agricultural sector (farming). In Myanmar, Oo, Huylenbrueck and Speelman (2017) assessed the adaptation practices of farmers in the dry zone region. The study found that adjusting planting dates and changes in sowing methods are the most popular strategy. The study of Busch (2011) provided insights into climate adaptation capabilities needed by firms. These include managements’ possession of the required absorption of climate knowledge, flexibility in operations, and strategic climate integration. Ruokenen and Temmes (2018) provided evidence that the strategic approach to climate change is not the same among companies. However, strategic commitments typically stress the need for operational internal efficiency, addressing customers’ environmental concerns, or addressing global megatrends.

In the energy industry, Weinhofer and Hoffmann (2010) used a worldwide sample to examine the strategies of the industry. They reported three strategies including carbon compensation, carbon reduction, and carbon independence. Furthermore, Bui and Villiers (2017) found that during the period of their study, adaptation strategies were not consistent due to changes in risks perception, regulatory uncertainties and market opportunities. The results from in-depth interviews and archival pieces of evidence revealed that the strategies of five New Zealand electricity-generating companies changed from stable to anticipatory, proactive, creative and reactive. The paper also found that regulatory uncertainty influences organizational responses to risk management and firms adopt less proactive strategies because of these uncertainties.

The review of empirical studies shows that most of the research in this area focused on specific industries, regions and countries. There is a noticeable divergence regarding how companies respond to climate change. These differences are attributable to organizational resources and capabilities related to greenhouse gas emission reductions. Studies in the context of manufacturing firms in Africa are missing. In addition, prior studies are mostly qualitative. The dominance of the qualitative approach is due to lack of data sources (Srivastava, 2007) and due to contextual choices, and research focus. This thesis provides a different perspective from the prior literature by examining the adaptation strategies of manufacturing firms in Nigeria using a quantitative technique of analysis. The Nigerian business environment offers a good representation of sub-Saharan African countries, which have peculiarities different from those of the developed nations.

2.3 Theoretical Framework

The resource-based theory holds that valuable, difficult to imitate organizational resources provide the strategic sources of competitive advantage. The most important submission of the resource-based theory is that firms’ internal factors lead to sustained competitive advantage (Hart, 2010). No doubt, the resource-based view is influential in explaining how internal and external factors contribute to sustained competitive advantage (Hart, 1995). The resource-based view model asserts that companies may adopt proactive environmental strategy if it has or can have resource that it can transform into competencies that can it an edge over its competitors.

The resource-based view takes the perspective that for a company to gain a long-term competitive advantage under ecological constraints, it requires specific resources and capabilities. The resources are the assets under the firm’s control, while the capabilities refer to how it deploys its capacity in the utilization of its resources (Barney, 1991). From the above discussion, the study adopts the resource-based view based on the argument that firms develop and use their resources and capabilities in the natural environment to achieve their corporate objectives. Busch (2011) notes that the development and deployment in the context of the natural environment when two conditions are met. One, there must be a relationship between issues of the natural environment and organizational behavior, suggesting that companies can improve their performance by adapting to the natural environment. Two, managing environment-related issues can lead to a long-term competitive benefit.


The study uses a quantitative method to assess climate change strategies among Nigerian companies. The paper uses descriptive research design. The quantitative method is a method for testing theories by investigating the relationship between variables (Creswell, 2014), where the researcher uses numerical data to represent the phenomena being studied (Hair et al., 2010). The paper employed a survey method to collect data from target respondents and analyze same using descriptive and inferential statistics. The study addressed the research questions using a descriptive analysis where conclusions are drawn based on average (mean) and frequency of responses. 

The population for this study is the entire manufacturing firms registered with the Manufacturers' Association (MAN) in Nigeria. According to MAN, there were 2,503 registered manufacturing firms as of December 2019. The companies are categorized into five (5) subsectors, namely; agricultural goods, consumer goods, industrial goods, conglomerates, and pharmaceutical and healthcare. The sample was selected using the convenient sampling technique, which is a nonprobability technique employed when the researcher considers factors such as proximity, availability and willingness to fill questionnaires as criteria for selecting subjects. 

The study collected the data from close-ended questionnaires administered through the personal email of the respondents, who are managers of the selected companies. Several related studies have used the survey instrument for data collection (Beermann, 2011; Bui & Villiers, 2017). The closed-ended questionnaire is appropriate for quantitative study for easier coding, tabulation and analysis (Dawson, 2007). Since this is a cross-sectional study, the data was collected in February 2020. One hundred and ninety-three (193) people filled the questionnaire, and they serve as the subjects of the research.


This section presents the result of the study using simple percentages and charts. The demographic profile of the subjects was not presented for brevity.

Question 1: Does your organization employ climate change adaptation strategies?

Figure 4.1: Employment of Climate Change Adaptation Strategies

From figure 4.1, the companies that implement climate change adaptation strategies and those that did not are almost the same (50.3% and 49.7%, respectively). This means that half of the companies in the sample appreciate the importance of adapting to climate change and incorporate same in their business strategies.

Question 2: Does your organization employ any formal sustainability practices for global climate crisis

Figure 4.2: Implementation of Formal Sustainability Strategies for Climate Change

Figure 4.2 shows that 47.3% (88) of the respondents are of the view that their organizations have implemented formal sustainability strategies for climate change adaptation, while 52.7% (99) have not. The result reveals that most of the companies adapt informal approach to climate change.

  1. How does climate change affect your business organization?

Figure 4.3: Effect of Climate Change on Organization

Figure 4.3 demonstrates that 97.8% of the respondents are of the view that climate change negatively affects their organizations. 22% believe that climate change has a positive impact, while 1.7% see climate change does not affect their businesses.

  1. How does climate change affect health?

Figure 4.4 How Climate Change Affect Health

Figure 4.4 shows that 97.9% (185) are of the view that climate change negatively affects health, whereas 16.9% (N=32) believe that climate change adversely affects health. Only 2.1% (N=4) hold the view that climate change does not affect health.

  1. Our company’s strategy towards global climate crises is

Figure 4.5: Climate change adaptation strategies

Concerning climate change adaptation strategy, 43.3% (N=81) of the companies employ proactive strategy, while 65.2% (N=122) use reactive strategy. 9.1% (N=17), 5.3% (N=5.3) and 7% (N=7) employed planned, autonomous, and anticipatory strategy, respectively.

  1. When did your organization start implementing global climate crises adaptation strategies?

Figure 4.6: Years of Implementation of Climate Change Adaptation Strategies

Figure 4.6 shows that 51% (96) of the companies implemented climate change adaptation strategies five years ago. 48.9% (N=91) and 20.4% (N=38) implemented the strategies 6 to 10 years and 11 years and above, respectively. Nevertheless, 8.6% (N=16) does not implement it at all.

  1. What formal sustainability practices does your organization implement?

Figure 4.7: Formal sustainability practices implemented by organizations

Figure 4.7 shows that 32.3% (N=52) implemented Social responsibility certification (SA8000), 36.6% (N=59) Environmental certifications (ISO 14001, EMAS) and 66.5% (N=107) Health and safety certification (OHSAS, 18001). The Performance measurement systems, including sustainability key performance Indicators and social, environmental or sustainability reporting, were implemented by 22.4% (N=36) and 28% (N=45), respectively. In addition, 1.8% did not implement any formal strategies.

  1. What is/are your company’s motivationsfor global climate crises strategies adoption?

Figure 4.8: Formal Sustainability Strategies Implemented

From Figure 4.8, it is clear that 61% (N=114) implemented climate change adaptation strategies because of regulatory compliance, and 36% (N=67) were motivated by technological advancements. 7% (N=13) were motivated by the complex global environment, 21.5% (N=40) by competitive pressure, 15.6% (N=29) by stakeholder pressure, and 10.8% (N=20) by the surge in business practices.

4.9 My organization adopts processes to reduce energy consumption

Figure 4.9 Adopting Processes to Reduce Energy Consumption

Figure 4.9 indicates that majority of the respondents (36.9%, N=69) were undecided concerning adopting processes to reduce their energy consumption, followed by 28.9% (N=54) who were in strong agreement and 26.7% (50) who agreed with the statement. 5.9% (11) disagreed, and 1.6% (N=3) strongly disagreed.

  1. My organization adopts processes to reduce and recycle waste

Figure 4.10: Adopting processes to reduce and recycle waste

Figure 4.10 shows that majority of the respondents (34.2%, N=64) were uncertain concerning adopting processes to reduce their energy consumption, followed by 31.6% (N=59) who were in agreement and 25.1% (47) who were in strong agreement with the statement. 6.4% (12) disagreed, and 2.7% (N=5) strongly disagreed.

  1. My organization adopts processes to reduce water consumption

 Figure 4.11: adoption of processes to reduce water consumption

Figure 4.11 indicates that 39% (N=73) of the subjects were undecided about adopting processes to reduce water consumption, 27.8% (N=52) were in strong agreement and 18.7% (N=35) was agreement with the statement. Also, 11.2% (N=21) disagreed and 3.2% (N=6) strongly disagreed.

  1. My organization implements systems to reduce harmful emissions

Figure 4.12: Implementation of Systems to Reduce Harmful Emissions

Figure 4.12 shows that majority of the respondents (34.2%, N=64) were agreement about implementing systems to reduce their water consumption, followed by 29.9% (N=56) who were neutral and 24.1% (45) who were in strong agreement. 11.2% (21) disagreed, and 3.2% (N=6) strongly disagreed with the statement.

4.13 My organization adopts systems to reduce packaging environmental effects

4.13: Adoption of Systems to Reduce Packaging Environmental Effects

Figure 4.13 indicates that majority of the respondents (37.1%, N=69) were undecided on adopting systems to reduce packaging environmental effects, which is followed by 27.4% (N=51) who were in agreement and 22% (N=41) who were in strong agreement; 10.8% (N=20) disagreed and 2.7% (N=5) strongly disagreed.


Climate change affects the way companies conduct their business operations. Companies should devise ways of reducing their impact on the climate by changing their habits such as cutting greenhouse gas emissions, a more friendly way of waste disposal and reducing energy consumption, among other things. Climate change adaptation strategies vary across firms, industries and countries. Few studies have sought to assess climate change strategies in the context of developing economies such as Nigeria. This study applies the RBV to assess climate change adaptation strategies among selected companies in Nigeria. The study uses a descriptive research methodology, where simple percentages were employed to arrive at the conclusions.

From the results, almost half of the companies have adopted climate change strategies and nearly half of these companies have implemented formal strategy. Most of companies see climate change as hurting their businesses, and also 97% of the subjects perceive that climate change harms health. In addition, 46% of companies adopted proactive strategies, while 65% employed a reactive approach. About 52% of companies have only recently seen the need to adapt to climate change (less than five years). Only a few of the companies implemented climate change strategies for the past 16 years and above. This shows that Nigerian companies have only recently begun to appreciate the climate change effect in their company strategy.

The result also indicates that Health and Safety Certification (OHSAS, 18001) was the most prominent formal sustainability strategy, followed by Environmental Certifications (ISO 14001, EMAS). Most of companies implemented the strategies to satisfy regulatory requirements and to cope with technological advancements. Previous studies also found that companies implement climate change to comply with regulations and to satisfy pressure from stakeholders such as insurers, banks and civil society organizations (AlGhunaim, 2018). In addition, the subjects agreed that their companies implemented processes to reduce energy consumption, water consumption, harmful emissions, recycling and disposal of waste, and packaging environmental effects. The result shows that although the implementation is at the initial stage, the Nigerian companies are rigorously pursuing sustainability strategies for climate change.



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Author: Comfort Asokoro-Ogaji a student at LIGS University, under the supervision of lecturer Minh Nguyen.


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