Globalization and the Cultures of Business in Africa
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181 pages

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Developing markets for African entrepreneurs

Can Africa develop businesses beyond the extractive or agricultural sectors? What would it take for Africa to play a major role in global business? By focusing on recent changes, Scott D. Taylor demonstrates how Africa's business culture is marked by an unprecedented receptivity to private enterprise. Challenging persistent stereotypes about crony capitalism and the lack of development, Taylor reveals a long and dynamic history of business in Africa. He shows how a hospitable climate for business has been spurred by institutional change, globalization, and political and economic reform. Taylor encourages a broader understanding of the mosaic of African business and the diversity of influences and cultures that shape it.

Part I. Introduction and Background
1. African Business and Capitalism in Historical Perspective
Part II. Globalization and Political and Economic Transformation
2. Institutional Change in the 1990s: Economic and Political Reform
3. Business, the African State and Globalization in the New Millennium: Transnational Influences and Domestic Responses
Part III. The Diversity of African Business: Problems and Prospects
4. Foreign Investment Beyond Compradorism & Primary Commodities: The Role of the Global South
5. From Patrimonialism to Profit? The Transformation of Crony Capitalists and Bureaucratic Bourgeoisies
6. Going Continental, Going Global: Africa's Corporate Giants
Conclusion: The Prospects for African Business
Suggestions for Further Reading



Publié par
Date de parution 05 septembre 2012
Nombre de lectures 4
EAN13 9780253005816
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press 601 North Morton Street Bloomington, Indiana 47404-3797 USA
Telephone orders 800-842-6796
Fax orders 812-855-7931
2012 by Scott D. Taylor
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Taylor, Scott D., date
Globalization and the cultures of business in Africa : from patrimonialism to profit / Scott D. Taylor.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-253-00266-2 (cloth : alk. paper) - ISBN 978-0-253-00573-1 (pbk. : alk. paper) - ISBN 978-0-253-00581-6 (eb) 1. Business enterprises-Africa, Sub-Saharan. 2. Globalization-Africa, Sub-Saharan. 3. Capitalism-Africa, Sub-Saharan. 4. Investments, Foreign-Africa, Sub-Saharan. 5. Big business-Africa, Sub-Saharan. I. Title.
HD2917.T39 2012
1 2 3 4 5 17 16 15 14 13 12
1. African Business and Capitalism in Historical Perspective
2. Institutional Change in the 1990s Economic and Political Reform
3. Business, the African State, and Globalization in the New Millennium Transnational Influences and Domestic Responses
4. Foreign Investment beyond Compradorism and Primary Commodities The Role of the Global South
5. From Patrimonialism to Profit? The Transformation of Crony Capitalists and Bureaucratic Bourgeoisies
6. Going Continental, Going Global Africa s Corporate Giants
Conclusion Prospects for Business in Africa and African Business
Further Reading
I should have known better. At the very least, I should have asked permission.
By the summer of 2010, having traveled to Africa as a student, researcher, and development consultant for more than twenty-five years, I considered myself sensitive to issues of privacy and voyeurism, objectification and power dynamics. But not on the day I found myself in search of the ideal image for the cover of this book-one of several that I hoped would suitably depict Africa s diverse business cultures.
Although small business and barely formal urban markets are not a central focus of this book, I decided to shoot a picture of downtown Lusaka s bustling Comesa Market (after the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, behind whose headquarters the market sits). A few moments after I had snapped the photograph and left the market, I found myself pursued by one of the marketers. Furious, he assailed me and my party in Icibemba for what he assumed was my desire to objectivize what he called our poverty : I was accused of wanting to return to the United States and use my photos to show others the poor and undeveloped conditions under which Africans live and work.
Although I was deliberately trying to obscure identities in the photo (I wanted place more than people), it is nevertheless true that his reaction was not only justified but was based on an astute understanding of how Westerners, and perhaps Americans in particular, have often conceptualized Africa and Africans as backward, poverty stricken, and underdeveloped.
Perhaps in no location more so than in Africa s rough and tumble urban marketplaces is this conception more on display-or at least ripe for mischaracterization. This is, in many respects, the epitome of what Curtis Keim refers to as primitive Africa -an Africa that desperately needs to catch up. 1 De rigueur in the past, arguably such views remain widespread today. It is precisely those assumptions and predispositions of a static and unchanging Africa that this book seeks to challenge, in particular by focusing on the opportunities for big business in contemporary Africa. Ironically, then, the merchant could not have been more wrong about my intentions. In fact, his interpretation was exactly the opposite of what this book aims to portray. 2
I was aiming for a perfect collage of cover photographs that would display African business in all its fascinating contemporary variation, from the iconic stalls of the informal sector at Comesa Market to the soaring new office towers of Kigali, from the sellers of tourist objects to the whirring textile factories of Lesotho. The challenge is to transcend that vision of the informal market as the sole representation of business in sub-Saharan Africa. Although the photo collage ultimately did not work out logistically, this book seeks to illuminate the vibrancy, dynamism, resilience, and most importantly, the diversity of business cultures in sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular emphasis on medium and large-scale firms in the formal sector. Indeed, if I could locate him, I think my angry proprietor would be pleasantly surprised by this book.
Most studies of business activity in Africa tend to focus on the owners of micro- and small- and medium-scale enterprises (M/SMEs), and surely, those individuals can be downright impressive in their perseverance and intrepidity. Indeed, sub-Saharan Africa has become known for micro- and small-scale enterprises, and these perhaps form a central preoccupation of donors and international development practitioners. To casual observers, these occupations may be hallmarks of poverty and backwardness (as my market accuser feared), although to scholars they have been the scene of political ferment (John Heilbrunn); inventiveness and creativity (Janet McGaffey; Karen Tranberg Hansen); and vibrant entrepreneurship (Gareth Austin; Michael West; John Iliffe). 3
Micro- and small-scale enterprises are hardly unimportant. Indeed, they play a critical function in subsistence-and more. They are critical sites of gender equity, even female senior authority, and many of these small businesses substantially exceed subsistence and generate measurable profits. Moreover, while this heritage is frequently overlooked, today s M/SMEs are the metaphorical heirs to a truly vast history of entrepreneurialism and capitalist practice in Africa that extends back into antiquity. With very few exceptions, however, I eschew small-scale or microenterprises in the informal sector in this book. First, these entities are already well covered in both scholarly and practical literatures on development, gender, and microfinance. Yet this preoccupation with M/SMEs in Africa, while not misplaced, is clearly one sided. Since M/SMEs are often geared toward subsistence and are predominantly based in the trades, they are, even under the most propitious conditions, inadequate vehicles for delivering technology transfer, capacity for reproduction and indeed, development itself. Of course, to label all small-scale business activity as subsistence flies in the face of considerable evidence. 4 Some of these players, such as the Mercedes-owning Mama Benz of Togo and elsewhere, have accumulated fabulous wealth. Yet while many individuals have thrived and exceptions clearly exist, by and large this grouping collectively has not been able to make the transition to larger business enterprises or diversify beyond trading. Their institutions have seldom been pillars of the modern economy nor have they been able to shape the state in the mode of a bourgeoisie. Thus, I see them as delinked from state structures or at least delinked from development imperatives as conceived in the contemporary era. In short, as important-indeed vital-as they are, Africa will not become renowned for its global business on the sturdy backs of market women alone.
In a way, therefore, the M/SME-centric image is an unfair depiction, or at least a misleading one, inasmuch as it belies the presence on the continent of a vast array of other business sectors, firms and operations, and opportunities that are obscured by the preoccupation with the informal (itself an unconscious depiction of a quaint, timeless and unchanged Africa, perhaps?). Hence, rather than focus on those small-scalers, the subject of this book is centered more squarely on medium and big business in Africa. These actors have not largely been the focus of analyses, in part because of our erroneous and outdated assumptions about the limits of the African private sector marketplace and its receptivity to larger formal business. Yet big business is not only present in Africa; it is also, I believe, more impactful.
This book argues that it is necessary to shift the paradigm through which large business in Africa is generally analyzed. Recent developments suggest a fundamental shift in the nature and practice of African business. Evidence of this change is found in policy changes, the Doing Business reports published by the World Bank, and investment in new sectors, among other things. I draw on this data, new

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