A Cultural Approach to African Management Philosophy

A Cultural Approach to African Management Philosophy

Osarumwense Iguisi
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/IJVCSN.2018070102
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Despite acknowledging the existence of indigenous management capabilities and skills in Africa, management practice in precolonial African societies was seen by the colonizers as primitive management. Africans have ways of exercising power and authority at the workplace, ways of motivating and rewarding people to make them work harder. Neither the institutions nor the political structures put in place by the colonizers acknowledge these indigenous knowledge structures, but much of them have survived in the traditions and cultural values of the African people. However, unlike in Europe and most parts of Asia, the attempted modernization or Westernization after independence has completely neglected the indigenous sociocultural knowledge and tried to transplant western management theories and models to traditional African societies. This article draws attention to the relevance of cultures to management philosophy with the purpose of contributing to a culturally appropriate practice of management in Africa. It has been shown that the different management theories in the form that they have been developed in the West reflect western philosophical thoughts which may not fit culturally in Africa management practice. However, in developing theories and building models of management theories in Africa, it is unlikely to pay Africans to throw away all that the West has to offer. Rather, the approach to appropriate management theorizing is to reflect on assumptions of Western management theories, compare Western assumptions about sociocultural values with African cultural values to rebuild the theories and models. The use of anthropological and philosophical concepts in this context will help in the development of appropriate management practice.
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Culture Stabilization Patterns

The model of Figure 1, taken from Iguisi and Hofstede (1993), indicates how we assume culture patterns in a country to stabilize themselves through feedback loops, but also to change under the influence of outside forces.

Figure 1.

The stabilization of culture patterns (Iguisi and Hofstede, 1993, p. 3)


The system of this model in Figure 1 implies that one cannot understand one element-such as, management practice philosophy within the local environment-without its societal and cultural value context.

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