This paper considers the Eurocentric conceptualisation of risk, which reinforces language, culture and business practices that are in conflict with Africa’s own traditional business methodologies. It attempts to identify the rent-seeking methods and resource-seeking strategies that sustain the hegemony of global corporations in Africa.
The paper explores non-linear historical narrative around the concept and construction of the idea and language of risk. It follows discourse analysis to identify how the Eurocentric concept of risk was exported and incorporated within the language of international business in non-Western business traditions. The fundamental research question driving this paper is: To what extent does the conceptualisation of risk perpetuate the African continent as risk-ridden?
The rent and resource-seeking strategies used by multinational corporations (MNCs) are central to “manufactured” risks, and this negatively creates impact for post-independent Africa. Whilst the state is inconsistent in its approach to dealing with this crisis, global corporations continue to do business, extract resources and expand their capital and market base in Africa.
The paper, therefore, proposes a further full empirical and theoretical enquiry to examine the nature of manufactured risk from an African perspective on the discursive psychological methodology to investigate how African leaders report on risk as the authors believe that risk theories in the Western-based theories are exaggerated and discursively shaped by their own ideals which do not necessarily apply to the contextual realities in Africa.
It is imperative for African governments to implement a nationalist-modernising strategy whereby initially the levels of export from local businesses could be proportioned to the levels of MNC resource-seeking activities. This approach would ensure the proliferation of local business groups that could gain access to local and international capital to maximise local production. In this sense, the government would not have to deal with manufactured risk and the challenges that emanate from the flight of capital.
There are political implications for the nation-states, as MNCs use the instabilities and weaknesses of governments on the continent to seek and exploit resources to maintain their competitive advantage at the global level. On the economic implications side, weaker governments cannot have a proper development programme for their countries, thereby perpetuating a cycle of uncertainty and unemployed younger graduates. Instability in economic realms leads to social unrest whereby governments are constantly and fully blamed for the inadequacies in social equality.
The philosophical basis of risk and its historical foundations in the African context are presented. Neo-colonial business methods, languages, cultures and strategies are explored and consideration is given as to how African governments could address the issue of co-option, as well as how to respond to the risks arising by MNCs’ business practices. The paper adds to the theoretical narratives by arguing that when considering entry into the marketplace, MNCs must ensure they integrate African perspectives (native categories) into their operational strategies. Moreover, management practitioners might consider addressing the essential topics of language, culture, business systems and business practices using ethnomethodological lenses.
Adams, K., Nayak, B.S. and Koukpaki, S. (2018), "Critical perspectives on “manufactured” risks arising from Eurocentric business practices in Africa", Critical Perspectives on International Business, Vol. 14 No. 2/3, pp. 210-229. https://doi.org/10.1108/cpoib-11-2016-0058
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