Research Focus and Theme

The presence of China in sub-Saharan Africa is significant for the economies of China and the majority of countries south of the Saharan where Chinese organizations now operate (CCS, 2008). This presence is also of major concern to Western countries on issues such as China’s unrestricted lending that has ‘undermined years of painstaking efforts to arrange conditional debt relief’, and where purported Chinese disregard for human rights has become an issue (Campbell, 2008, quoting Paul Wolfowitz for the World Bank and IMF ). Existing literature appears confined to macro-issues such as level of FDI and the intent of China towards Africa (Biggeri and Sanfilippo, 2008). Yet China’s activities directly impact on the lives and wellbeing of African employees and communities, and ultimately on the prosperity and development of sub-Saharan Africa. This proposed collaboration seeks to address the lack of theory, methodology and empirical research at individual, organizational and community levels. This is urgent in the light of the accumulation of often negative anecdotal information in areas such as employment and community relations (e.g. ‘There is at times a stark contrast between the Chinese rhetoric of brotherhood with African people, and some of the criticism coming from African citizens.’ CCS, 2008) on which assumptions (UK and Western) policy may be being made. With currently little systematic empirical information based on solidly constructed theory and methodology, there is a need to understand from different perspectives through an international collaboration, the nature of interaction at organizational level (with employees, with local community), for example, how Chinese managers manage African staff, and how these interactions and their effects are perceived.

A lack of cross-cultural understanding on the part of Chinese managers operating in Africa, or indeed of African government official, business leaders, managers, staffs and communities working with Chinese organizations may create issues detrimental to the effective and appropriate management of such organizations. Yet little empirical research has been undertaken at this level. It is this dearth of research that this project seeks to address by developing a research agenda that is not only informed by cross-cultural management theory, but also suggests a collaborative (cross-cultural) approach to doing such research.

It is proposed that any research at organizational level of Chinese organizations in Africa must be informed by:

  • The reason for Chinese corporations being in Africa and the nature of Chinese presence in Africa;
  • How South-South interactions at geopolitical level are understood; and
  • How the interactions at organizational level are understood.

Last Modified: Thu, 29 Aug 2013 17:14:48 SAST