Competitiveness between local, EU and Chinese firms in Kenya: Thesis on how less competitive local and EU firms, can strategically re-position themselves to be more competitive and create better possibilities for their business against those of the Chinese in the changing business environment in Kenya

Daniel Maina Mwangi

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

In the last decade, Chinese presence in Kenya for investment and trade purposes has drawn a lot of controversy among the local businessmen especially in the construction and manufacturing sectors whose infant industries have either been forced to close down due to inability to compete with the Chinese firms or in the verge of collapse. The EU firms who used to dominate the Kenyan market have also found themselves losing ground to the Chinese especially in terms of market share for their manufactured goods, and outcompeted in the tendering process of the infrastructure contracts from the Kenyan government. The thesis however analyses how these less competitive local and EU firms can strategically re-position themselves to be more competitive and create better possibilities for their business against those of the Chinese in the changing business environment in Kenya. The reason why Kenya is chosen as a case is because of the intensity of this trend that has drawn attention of different stake holders both within the country and the rest of the world. Internally, the thesis analyses SBR and its role in the Kenyan economic growth and also introduces the MNEs theory which involves Dunning’s Electic paradigm OLI model and Mathews LLL model which are used to provide the theoretical base for this research. The models explain how FDI has affected the practice of SBR in Kenya. Two case studies are introduced describing what kind of challenges are faced by the Local, Chinese and the EU firms in the construction and horticultural sectors in Kenya, also their current and future competitive positions in their respective sectors. To establish concrete results an empirical research was done which was built on interviews both through questionnaire and face to face with an Economist at the Ministry of East Africa Community and a manager at the Kenyan chamber of Commerce and industry. Accordingly the paper also addressed the legal issues in terms of Chinese failure to adhere to the compliance international law and how corruption as a global prohibition regime has been undermined due to hypocrisy by Chinese investors thus affecting its fight on the global scale. In conclusion I propose the less competitive local firms should compel the government to adopt policies advocating for joint ventures with the Chinese firms establishing in the Country like is done in Arab countries to protect their infant industries. This will help them in building their competencies and with time they will have enough experience for big projects and bid competitively. As for the EU a race to the bottom in terms of policies will be inevitable since the tied aid policy is not working for their best interest. They need also to compel the government to adhere to its commitment on good governance and anti corruption and shun away from operating with firms that have a bad record on good business practices thus giving them an edge compared to the Chinese.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2011
Number of pages120