The effect of collectivism on family meal consumption behaviour: The implications on food companies in Sierra Leone, 1st edition, Lambert Academic publishing, Saarbrücken, Germany

Sheku Kakay

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Sierra Leone is a multi-cultural and multi-faceted society with people from diverse backgrounds, who espoused different cultural behaviours at mealtimes and in their business dealings. The significance of this study is that it highlights the differences and similarities inherent among the families and businesses in the Sierra Leonean collectivist context, and Africa generally, which has been neglected by many researchers in the past. This study is the first of its kind in the African continent as it provides an opportunity for governments and businesses to see not only the cultural richness of Sierra Leone, but to learn and understand how to develop and respond to food products produced, consumed and sold in such markets.
The aim of this study is to critically review literature on collectivism and undertake data collection to evaluate the factors stakeholders perceived as influencing families’ meal social interaction behaviour in a Sierra Leonean context, and apply the results on food retailers and producers to assess how they affect their behaviour when marketing their products to consumers.
This research adopted the constructionist approach as its epistemological perspective, which is reliably linked with the ‘lived experiences of families and businesses as it is considered an appropriate way for determining how humans make sense of their surroundings. In the first phase of the study, 20 different Sierra Leonean families (husband and wife), with a sample size of 40, were interviewed using observations and one-to-one semi-structured interviews, whilst in the second phase of the study, 20 businesses (16 food retailing and 4 food manufacturing companies) were interviewed using a semi-structured interview approach. The research was conducted in the four provincial headquarter towns of Bo, Freetown, Kenema and Makeni. The data was collected using snowballing, experiential and convenience sampling techniques. The researcher used qualitative research in explaining the behaviours of families and businesses. The data was analysed qualitatively using an inductive approach.
The findings showed that a majority of Sierra Leonean families and businesses displayed collectivist behaviour when interacting socially and/or when marketing their food products to customers. The findings also showed that religion, ethnicity, conformity, reference groups and social class were the predominant determinants of the behaviours of a majority of families and businesses in Sierra Leone. In addition, the results of the findings implied that variation exists even between individuals of the same religion, between gender groups, and between food retailing and food producing companies, which affects the way they behave. The findings further revealed that there is a cultural divide between a majority of Muslims and Christians with regard the type of food considered appropriate for consumption at the dinner table, which equally affects the type of food products manufactured and sold by businesses. Despite this division, the findings showed that there are increased commonalities between a majority of the families and businesses as well as differences, which affects their behavioural patterns.
The key contributions of this study are that it provides an extension of our knowledge in identifying new concepts of collectivism in the Sierra Leonean context that influences families and businesses’ behaviour, for example, family/customer’s food ethics; gender differentiation; tribal sentiment; preferential treatment; communication style; education; etc. The study also highlights the concept of interactionalism, which posits that religion, ethnicity, conformity, reference groups and social class interact with each other in the form of a web in influencing the behaviour of Sierra Leonean families and businesses. Another contribution of this study is its presentation of the factors affecting families and businesses’ behaviour in schematic diagrams.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationSaarbrücken, Germany
PublisherLAP Lambert Academic publishing
Number of pages577
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-330-03062-6
ISBN (Print)978-3-330-03062-6
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2017


  • Culture consumer behaviour


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