Management in Africa

Another harbor as the sun begins to set with mist in the air and the usual overhead cranes, container ships, tankers and oil tank farms

Moustapha Mamba Guirassy

Moustapha Mamba Guirassy is Director of the Institut Africain de Management (IAM) in Senegal.

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How can African business schools best serve the often unique needs of African businesses and peoples? Moustapha Mamba Guirassy gives one example from Senegal that may serve as a guide.

“A human being is by nature a political animal,” said Aristotle. Antiquity believed that it is only by living in the human community that a man or a woman acquires their humanity. That is why Aristotle also said that “to live alone, one must be a beast or a god”.

It should be noted, however,that we only achieve our humanity through a psycho-social integration process we now call education. Initially the reserve of the family, clan, tribe or lineage, over time education has become theconcern of the whole community. Determined by its own concerns, the specific problems occurring in its environment, its history and its teaching materials, each community develops its own educational system to form a type of human being who embodies its identity and who works for its progress.

However, mainly because of colonisation, the African education system (and in particular the field of management education) was and is in large part more to do with training that meets the needs of other communities rather than its own. It trains for others rather than for itself.

It is the difficult relationship between the orientation of the African education system, in particular in management, and African identities (understood in terms of needs and expectations of the continent) that this article now examines.

Transfer factors and the current situation

Change factors in business schools are many and various – individual and collective, material and spiritual, qualitative and quantitative – making it difficult to identify a specific factor responsible for a particular change. But, generally,there are two broad categories of factors: internal and external.

Internal factors

African societies are hierarchical and/or stratified, leading to conflicts, which are, according to Marxist sociology, decisive factors in social change. In traditional African societies, stratification revolved around caste, professional, gender, cultural, demographic and geographic considerations, which caused conflicts and thus changes in behaviour.

External factors

External factors have been the most critical in leading to profound changes in the political, economic and sociocultural agendas of Black Africa.

For the full article, you can view the PDF or listen to the podcast.

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