Understanding the Rise of African Business: In Search of Business Perspectives on African Enterprise Development

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    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.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAfrican Journal of Economic and Management Studies
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)249-268
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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