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Centre of African Studies: Events


Chinese business and management in Africa: insights from Kenya, Zambia and South Africa

Chinese business and management in Africa: insights from Kenya, Zambia and South Africa
Speaker: Lisa Siebers # University of Stirling
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Date and Time
9th Oct 2019 16:00 - 9th Oct 2019 17:30
Seminar room 2, Chrystal Macmillan Building

China’s engagement in African countries has been a historical phenomenon dated back to the 15th century. The historical trajectory was from the Ming Dynasty expeditions to Maoist revolutionary diplomacy to present-day foreign direct investment. This research aims to enhance understanding of the nature and dynamics of Chinese business and management practices in Africa not in terms of the more familiar perspectives such as volume of trade or multinational corporations’ internationalisation strategies but by synthesizing the characteristics of the Chinese business and management practices in Kenya, Zambia, and South Africa, analysing their human resource cross-cultural management practices, and characterising the experiences of both the Chinese employers and African personnel (both managers and employees).

Through in-depth investigation by over 150 interviews in various business sectors with Chinese managers/business owners and local managers and employees, the findings show several important orientations that Chinese organisations undertake when operating in the three African countries. There are both similarities and differentiations of Chinese business and management practices in the three African countries: Chinese organisations have a similar orientation toward understanding locals’ work attitudes and competencies; but they have different ways of managing people (pay, recruitment, and employee retention), responding to inter-cultural issues, and communication and socialisation. These practices are perceived variously by the locals.

These findings indicate both the advantages and challenges of Chinese organisations have in African countries. In this regard, African agencies play an important role in facilitating and influencing Chinese business and management practices. Both Chinese practices and African agencies are deemed to determine the sustainable growth of Chinese investments and local business, economic, and societal development. 

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