Introduction

Introduction

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2534-9.ch001
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Introduction

This book could not have come at an opportune time when the issues of the economic, social, cultural and technological consequences of globalization could be said to have now occupied a crucial space in the corridors of international trade relations and contemporary intellectual and social theory. One would note that as expected this space has been occupied both by critics and supporters of globalization, each side marshalling their claims to justify their preferred policy options, predispositions and perceived normative courses of action.

However, in this debate the specific question of how globalization has affected the menu of choices and strategic options facing multinational corporations (MNCs) operating on the African continent has received little attention. One would argue that host governments in Africa also need relevant information to inform their development strategies and attitudes about how to approach MNCs. This book is an attempt to provide some answers to this essential question. The first three chapters of the book highlight various issues ranging from a working definition of globalization and how the construct itself can be used to explain contemporary economic affairs in Africa as they relate to the issue of marginalization of much of the continent’s peoples.

The chapters also highlight a discussion of the critical turn in modern management discourse from agency theory to stakeholder theory. Further, the chapters include a presentation of various attempts to test the validity of stakeholder theory. Finally, activities of MNCs in Africa are examined in the context of the analyses of foreign direct investment flows (FDI) to Africa within a specified period. The last three chapters are both descriptive and prescriptive. Thus, the issue of what African countries should do in fulfilling their tasks of designing appropriate public policies to provide a pathway to economic development somewhat unencumbered by the trappings of the current global economic order is addressed in the remaining two chapters of the book. These chapters introduced a discussion of critical theory by turning the discussion away from an enhanced stakeholder approach to critical stakeholder approaches. It was suggested that these approaches underscore the empowerment of stakeholders through communication processes on the basis of discourse ethics and moral reasoning.

Thus, what the chapters underscore is that business ethics in a rapidly globalizing world should become an essential part of the management curriculum. The book also emphasizes the fact that managers and other corporate leaders----with the responsibility for the foreign operations of MNCs----are confronted with distinct ethical issues that may not necessarily arise in the operations of domestic firms. These may include issues such as the existence of diverse ethical traditions, economic organizations and legal and political systems.

This researcher notes that levels of economic development, pervasive corruption and the fragility of institutional norms may also set developing countries in Africa apart from their counterparts in the developed world. The postscript should be viewed as constituting part of the overarching conceptual framework of the book as it provides an annotated bibliography of current discussions and debates in the extant literature on the link between globalization and the historical evolution of global city theory. It is suggested that the empirical link between global cities and globalization has manifestly affected selected countries in Africa, both industrial and nonindustrial states as much as it has affected cities in other parts of the world. This suggestion also presupposes that global city theory says as much about the role of global cities in understanding the activities of MNCs as it is about their ethical and moral predispositions.

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