The Challenges of Evolving and Developing Indigenous Management Theories and

Topics: Management, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa Pages: 25 (7597 words) Published: August 28, 2010

Benjamin James Inyang, Ph.D.
Department of Business Management
University of Calabar P.M.B. 1115 Calabar, Nigeria



The evolution and development of indigenous management theories and practices in Africa has been seriously affected and retarded by colonialism. The colonial administration introduced western management theories and practices, considered as the drivers and the panacea for the continent’s socio-politico-economic development. Western scholarship and literature generally devalued and deprecated the astonishing management prowess and practices of early African civilizations, as evidenced, for example, in the building of the great Egyptian pyramids. These foreign management systems generally failed to achieve the expected goals as they discountenanced African cultural inertia and social milieu. The paper argues for the development of indigenous African management philosophy, which will be rooted in the African culture, value system and beliefs, to provide the practical way for the efficient and effective running of organizations in Africa, with its global competitiveness. The Ubuntu management system and the “new management techniques”, which emphasize humanness, communalism and African patriotism, provide the veritable starting point for the development of indigenous African management philosophy.

Keyword: African Management Philosophy, Ubuntu, Africa, New Management Techniques, Management Theories, Management Practices, Management Principles


Scholarly conceptualization from Europe and the United States of America concerning management in Africa have tended to disparage its development, creating a binary management systems of “developed” western management theories and concepts and “underdeveloped” African management thoughts. Western management literature stridently emphasizes this dichotomy, with unabated importation of western management theories and practices to Africa at the detriment of developing indigenous African management theories, which will accommodate the continent’s cultural inertia. Gbadamosi (2003) aptly notes that: “Western management concepts and writings have dominated the thinking of academics and managers in Africa for a long-time. Such writings have not shown how culture might be taken into account in managerial practice”(p. 274).

There in no doubt that “management in Africa is strongly rooted in cultural beliefs and traditions” (Fashoyin, 2005, p. 43). The arrival of colonialism in Africa in the 19th century disrupted the people’s cultural beliefs and traditions, and thus “triggered the beginning of what may be called “colonized African management” according to (Eze, 1995, p. 136-137). The colonial regimes in Africa created both administrative bureaucracies and colonial companies to exploit the vast natural resources of the continent. A workforce was created made up of the best African brains and trained in western management principles and practices to supply energies for the colonial establishments. “These trained and elevated brains comprised the pioneer group of foreign-loyalist African managers who make up today’s African management” (Eze, 1995, p. 137). The colonial training has not created the salubrious conditions for nurturing African indigenous management practices. Rather, “the colonial training is psychologically emasculating in terms of self-and national identity” (Eze, 1995, p. 137). The blanket application of those principles and/or the “unmodified transplantation of those practices which are being utilized in the industrialized countries” (Deihl, 1984, p. 247) has not in any way helped in the progress of developing indigenous African management theories and practices. There was an erosion of African...

References: Abudu, F. 1986. Work attitudes of Africans, with special reference to Nigeria. International Studies of Management and Organization, 16 (2), 17-36.
Afro-Centric Alliance. 2001. Indigenizing organizational change: localization in Tanzania and Malawi. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 16 (1), 59-78.
Ahiauzu, A. 1999. The African industrial man. Port Harcourt, Nigeria: CIMRAT Publications.
Anyansi-Archibong, C. B. 2001. Toward an African-oriented management theory. In F. M. Edoho (Ed.), Management challenges for Africa in the twenty-first century: theoretical and applied perspectives: 63-72. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Bartol, K.M. & Martin, D.C. 1991. Management. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Bateman, T.S.& Zeithaml, C. P. 1993. Management: function and strategy (2nd Edition). Burr Ridge, Illinois: Irwin.
Blunt, P. & Jones, M. L. 1992. Managing organizations in Africa. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Blunt, P. & Jones, M. L. 1997. Exploring the limits of western leadership theory in East Asia and Africa. Personnel Review, 26, 6-23.
British Council Management Express. 2007. Globalization and management practices in Africa. Available at: (Accessed 10 January 2008).
Daft, R. L. 1986. Organizational theory and design (2nd Ed.), New York: McGraw-Hill.
Deihl, L. 1984. Management theory versus practice in developing countries. In P.N.O. Ejiofor & V.A. Aniagoh (Eds.), Managing the Nigerian Worker: 247-251. Ibadan: Longman Nig. Ltd.
De Sardan, J. P. O. 1999. A moral economy of corruption in Africa? The Journal of Modern African Studies, 37 (1), 25-52.
Dia, M. 1996. Africa’s management in the 1990s and beyond. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
Diop, C.A. 1987. Pre-colonial black Africa. Westport, CT: Lawrence Hill & Company.
Drucker, P. F. 1974. Management: tasks, responsibilities, practices. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Dumont, R. 1960. False start in Africa. London: Andre Deutsh.
Edoho, F.M. 2001. (Ed.) Management challenges for Africa in the twenty-first century: theoretical and applied perspectives. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Edoho, F. M. 2001. Management in Africa: the quest for a philosophical framework. In F. M. Edoho (ed.), Management challenges for Africa in the twenty-first century: theoretical and applied perspectives: 73-90. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Ejiofor, P.N.O. 1987. Management in Nigeria: theories and issues (2nd edition). Lagos: Africana-FEP Publishers Limited.
Eze, N. 1995. Human resource management in Africa: problems and solutions. Lagos, Nigeria: Zomex Press.
Fayol, H. 1949. General and industrial management. Translated, C. Stones. Marshfield, Mass: Pitman Publishing
Gbadamosi, G
George, C. S. 1968. The history of management thought. Englewood Cliffs. N. J: Prentice-Hall.
Griffin, R. 2005. Management, 8th Edition. Boston: Houghton-Mufflin.
Guillen, M.F. 1994. Models of management. Chicago: University Press.
Hartley, N.T. 2006. Management history: an umbrella model. Journal of Management History, 12 (3), 278-292.
Horwitz, F.M. 2002. Whither South African Management? In M. Warner & P. Joynt (eds), Managing across culture: 215-220. London: Thomson Learning.
Inyang, B. J. 2007. Management theory: principles and practice, 2nd edition: Calabar, Nigeria: Merb Publishers.
Inyang, B. J. & Akpama, A. M. 2002. Personnel management practice in Nigeria. Calabar, Nigeria: Merb Business Centre.
Jackson, T. 2004. Management and change in Africa: a cross-cultural perspective. New York: Routledge.
Jaja, S. A. & Zeb-Obipi, I. 1999. Management: elements and theories. Port Harcourt, Nigeria: Pearl Publishers.
Jones, M. L. 1986. Management development: an African focus. Management Education and Development, 17 (3), 302-16 (and reproduced in International Studies of Management and Organization, 1989, 19(1), 74-90.
Kamoche, K. 2000. Sociological paradigms and human resources: an African context Aldershot: Ashgate.
Kiggundu, M.N. 1988. Africa. In R. Nath (ed.) Comparative management: a regional view. Cambridge, M.A: Ballinger.
Kiggundu, M.N. 1989. Managing organizations in developing countries. West Harford, CT: Kumarian Press.
Kiggundu, M.N. 1991. The challenge of management development in sub-saharan Africa. Journal of Management Development, 10(6),32-47.
Kreitner, R. 1995 Management.6th Edition. Bostom: Houghton Miffin company.
Mangaliso, M.P. 2001. Building competitive advantage from Ubuntu: management lessons from South African. Academy of Management Executive, 153(3), 23-23.
Mbigi, L. 1997. Ubuntu: the African dream in management. Pretoria: Knowledge Resources.
Mbigi, L. 2005. The spirit of African leadership. Johannesburg: Knowledge Resources.
Ngambi, H. 2004. African leadership: lessons from the chiefs. In T.A.Meyer & I. Boninelli (Eds.), Conversations in leadership: South African perspective: 107-132. Johannesburg: Knowledge Resources.
Nwachukwu, C. C. 1992. Management theory and practice. Onitsha, Nigeria: Africana FEP Publishers Limited.
Nzelibe, C. O. 1986. The evolution of African management thought. International Studies of Management and Organization, 16 (2), 6-16.
Ogundele, O. J. K. 2006. Management and organization: theory and behaviour. Lagos, Nigeria: Molofin Nominee.
Oshagbemi, T. A. 1984. The management of culture for effective performance. In P.N.O. Ejiofor & V.A. Aniagoh. (Eds.), Managing the Nigerian Worker: 253-256. Ibadan: Longman Nig. Ltd.
Osuala, E. C. 2002. Business Management. Onitsha, Nigeria: Cape Publishers International Limited.
Osuntokun, J. 2001. Some thoughts on traditional African idea of management. The Journal of Cultural Studies, 3 (1), 99-107.
Payne, S. C., Youngcourt, S. S. & Watrous, K. M. 2006. Portrayals of F. W. Taylor across textbooks. Journal of Management History, 12 (4), 385-407.
Poovan, N., du Toit, M.K. & Engelbrecht, A.S. 2006. The effect of social value of Ubuntu on team effectiveness. South African Journal of Business Management, 37 (3) 219-233.
Porth, S. J., & Mccall, J. 2001. Contemporary management theories and Catholic social teaching: similarities and differences. Review of Business, 22 (3), 8-21.
Pugh, D. S. 1966. Modern organization theory: a psychological and sociological study. Psychological Bulletin, 66 (21), 235-251.
Rao, V. S. P. & Narayana, P. S. 1998. Organization theory and behaviour 2nd Rev. Ed. Delhi: Konark Publishers PVT. LTD.
Robbins, S. P. 1983. Organization theory. New York: Prentice-Hall
Safavi, F
Thomas, A. & Schonken, J. 1998. Culture-specific management movement. South African Journal of Business Management, 29 (2), 53-76.
Usdiken, B. 1996. Importing theories of management and organization: the case of Turkish academia. International Studies of Management and Organization, 26(3), 33-45.
Waiguchu, J. M., Tiagha, E. & Mwara, M. 1999. Management and organizations in Africa: a handbook and reference. Westport, CT: Quorum Books.
Wren, D. A. 1994. The evolution of management thought, (4th ed.), New York: Wiley.
Yoo, J. W. Lemak, D.J. & Choi, Y. 2006. Principles of management and competitive strategies: using Fayol to implement Porter. Journal of Management History, 12 (4), 352-368.
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Management Theory Essay
  • Management Theory Essay
  • Essay on comparing theories of management
  • Management Theory Essay
  • Essay about Management Theories
  • management theories Essay
  • Management Administrative Theory Essay
  • The Management Theory and Practice Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free