Research Seminar “Africapitalism, MNEs, and the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa”

2019-04-30 09:32:45

Dear students, faculty and staff,

Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Business invites you to Research Seminar “Africapitalism, MNEs, and the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa” by Kenneth Amaeshi, Chair in Business and Sustainable Development and Chair of the Sustainable Business Initiative, The University of Edinburgh

WHEN: Monday, May 27, 12:30 – 13:30 WHERE: Block C3 (GSB/GSPP Building), 3rd floor, 3037

ABSTRACT: A good number of Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) are often looked upon with great suspicion as economic raiders, who are mainly interested in repatriating wealth to their home countries. There are also views that MNEs are great sources of economic opportunities – they create jobs, facilitate transfer of technologies, contribute to local economies and create wealth. Irrespective of these divergent views, there is a tendency to treat MNEs as a homogenous group and assume their interests are often in tension with the interests of their host countries. However, despite the converging influences of globalisation, there is empirical evidence to suggest that MNEs are of different varieties of capitalism, and are, therefore, shaped by different institutional configurations and underpinned by different socio-economic ideologies. In the same way, also, their host contexts are of different institutional arrangements; whilst some are strong and vibrant, others are hostile, weak and fragile. Unfortunately, most countries in Africa seem to have more of the latter than the former contexts given their long chequered history of colonialism, bad governance, poverty, weak institutions, and feeble civil society. This implies that MNEs in Africa will need to find a good balance between their home country and host country influences in order to be successful and genuinely contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In order to make progress with the SDGs, and given the unique circumstances of Africa, it is necessary to rethink the underlying economic philosophies upon which these goals are expected to be met in Africa. This requires a reimagined economic philosophy informed by a business in society frame that recognises the foreign character of MNEs and the need for more direct contribution to local economic development. This is where Africapitalism comes in. Simply put, Africapitalism is an economic philosophy that embodies the private sector’s commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through investments that generate both economic prosperity and social wealth. Thus, it is important to understand how Africapitalism, as an economic philosophy, can guide MNEs to strike the balance between their traditional goal of profitability and the societal goal of sustainable development. Specifically, can the tenets of Africapitalism help MNEs in Africa act in a way that aligns them with the sustainable development of the continent? This paper builds on previous works and demonstrate how the tenets of Africapitalism could potentially guide MNEs to achieve sustainable development in Africa. The objectives are two-fold. First, it seeks to place MNEs and their potential role in the context of a variety of capitalism that responds to and is characteristic of the needs of Africa. Second, it challenges scholars to approach the issue of sustainable development in Africa from a nascent, alternative and perhaps more suitable theoretical lens.

SPEAKER: Kenneth joined the University of Edinburgh in 2010. Following a career in management consultancy, he held positions at the Cranfield School of Management and the University of Warwick (Warwick Business School and Warwick Manufacturing Group, respectively). He was a Chevening Scholar, a Scholar of the International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, University of Nottingham, and a Visiting Scholar at Said Business School, University of Oxford (where he is currently an External Examiner). Kenneth’s research interest currently focuses on sector-level policies for sustainability and sustainability strategy in organisations. He has an expert level knowledge of developing and emerging economies. He has an extensive network in Africa. He was recently a Scholar in Residence at the National Pension Commission, Nigeria, and is currently a Visiting Professor of Strategy and Governance at the Lagos Business School, Nigeria. Besides teaching and researching, Kenneth works closely with businesses and governments in Africa, Europe, and Asia. He leads executive capacity building engagements and consultancy projects in the broad areas of sustainable finance, sustainability strategy, leadership, ethics, and governance.