Africa Business Research As a Laboratory for Theory-Building: Extreme Conditions, New Phenomena and Alternative Paradigms of Social Relationships

Barnard, H., Cuervo-Cazurra, A., Manning, S. 2017. “Africa business research as a laboratory for theory-building: Extreme conditions, new phenomena and alternative paradigms of social relationships”. Management and Organization Review, 13(3), 467-495

Northeastern U. D’Amore-McKim School of Business Research Paper No. 3012965

28 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2017 Last revised: 3 Dec 2017

See all articles by Helena Barnard

Helena Barnard

University of Pretoria - Gordon Institute of Business Science

Alvaro Cuervo-Cazurra

Northeastern University - Department of International Business and Strategy

Stephan Manning

University of Sussex Business School

Date Written: October 1, 2017

Abstract

Africa is an increasingly important business context, yet we still know very little about it. We review the challenges and opportunities that firms in Africa face and propose that these can serve as the basis for extending current theories and models of the firm. We do so by challenging some of the implicit assumptions and stereotypes on firms in Africa and proposing three avenues for extending theories. One is taking the extreme conditions of some Africa countries and using them as a laboratory for modifying current theories and models of the firm, as we illustrate in the case of institutional theory and the resource-based view. A second one is identifying new themes that arise from analyzing firms in Africa and their contexts of operation, and we discuss four themes: migrating multinationals and the meaning of home country, diaspora networks within and across countries, a recasting of cultural and institutional distance, and new hybrid organizational forms. A third one is developing new theories based on alternative paradigms of social relationships that have emerged in Africa that differ from those underpinning existing theories of the firm, such as kgotla and its view of community-based relationships or ubuntu and its humanizing view of relationships.

Keywords: theory development, context, international business, emerging markets, Africa

JEL Classification: J23, J24, J44, J31, M51, M53, M54, L14, L21, L22, L24, L84, O14, R11, P45, P48, F59, F21, F22, F23

Suggested Citation

Barnard, Helena and Cuervo-Cazurra, Alvaro and Manning, Stephan, Africa Business Research As a Laboratory for Theory-Building: Extreme Conditions, New Phenomena and Alternative Paradigms of Social Relationships (October 1, 2017). Barnard, H., Cuervo-Cazurra, A., Manning, S. 2017. “Africa business research as a laboratory for theory-building: Extreme conditions, new phenomena and alternative paradigms of social relationships”. Management and Organization Review, 13(3), 467-495; Northeastern U. D’Amore-McKim School of Business Research Paper No. 3012965. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3012965

Helena Barnard

University of Pretoria - Gordon Institute of Business Science ( email )

26 Melville Road
Illovo
Johannesburg, 2146
South Africa
+27117714213 (Phone)
+27117714177 (Fax)

Alvaro Cuervo-Cazurra

Northeastern University - Department of International Business and Strategy ( email )

D'Amore-McKim School of Business
313 Hayden Hall, 360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States
16173736568 (Phone)
16173738628 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://cuervo-cazurra.com

Stephan Manning (Contact Author)

University of Sussex Business School ( email )

Sussex House
Falmer
Brighton, Sussex BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

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