chapter  1
21 Pages

Management systems in Africa: The cross-cultural imperative

The need to understand and appreciate the diversity and complexity of sub-Saharan Africa has been largely hampered by an apparent continuation of a pejorative view of Africa, Africans and the contributions that can be made not only to the development of their own continent, but especially to other continents: not least in the area of management. It is rare to find a chapter on African management and its contributions to global managing in textbooks on international management, as we discussed in the Introduction. Indeed, the current literature on management in ‘developing’ countries generally (e.g. Jaeger and Kanungo, 1990) and management in Africa specifically (e.g. Blunt and Jones, 1992) presents a picture which sees management in these countries as fatalistic, resistant to change, reactive, short-termist, authoritarian, risk reducing, context dependent, and basing decisions on relationship criteria, rather than universalistic criteria. Apart from the pejorative nature of this description and contrast with ‘developed’ countries, there is the danger that the objective of development is to make the ‘developing’ world more like the ‘developed’ world, and that this should be reflected in the direction of organizational change and the way people are managed.