Understanding the rise of African business

Kaja Tvedten (Center for Business and Development Studies, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)
Michael Wendelboe Hansen (Center for Business and Development Studies, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)
Søren Jeppesen (Center for Business and Development Studies, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)

African Journal of Economic and Management Studies

ISSN: 2040-0705

Publication date: 26 August 2014

Abstract

Purpose

In light of recent enthusiasm over African private sector development, the purpose of this paper is to review the business literature on African enterprise development with a view of identifying lacunas in the literature and of developing an analytical framework that may guide future research on this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper provides a review of the extant literature on African enterprise development by juxtaposing the traditional pessimistic view of African business performance with more recent, optimistic accounts. Based on the literature review, lacunas in the literature are identified and an integrative framework for analysing African enterprise development is developed. The framework is used to provide an overview of the received literature on African enterprise development, to identify voids and lacunas and to identify new research agendas.

Findings

While a growing number of studies suggest profound improvements in the performance of African enterprises, data limitations, conceptual ambiguities and absence of comprehensive studies still cautions against sweeping generalizations. The paper reviews the literature on factors shaping the performance of African enterprises, observing that while much research is focusing on the role of the African business environments for enterprise development, much less attention has been devoted to the role of firm-specific capabilities, strategies and management. The paper concludes by advocating a contingency approach to research on African enterprise development that emphasizes the interplay between firm-specific factors and the specificities of the African business environment.

Originality/value

The paper provides a comprehensive literature review on African enterprise development and presents a novel framework for understanding African enterprise development from a business perspective.

Keywords

Citation

Tvedten, K., Wendelboe Hansen, M. and Jeppesen, S. (2014), "Understanding the rise of African business ", African Journal of Economic and Management Studies, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 249-268. https://doi.org/10.1108/AJEMS-11-2012-0077

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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