Some New Economic and Social Challenges in Africa
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The general premise of the studies is that economic growth strategy is the most cost-effective way of dealing with poverty. This statement is true for two fundamental reasons: first, growth lifts many of the poor out of poverty; second, it generates the government revenues necessary for anti-poverty measures (Fafchamps et al, 2001). Where resources are scarce, every entity and individual is expected to contribute to the development process. It is this collective endeavour that would accelerate the tempo of an African nation's development. Thus, African businesses must be guided by keen awareness of their social responsibilities to all stakeholders in their societies if they are to serve their societies optimally.
This is an issue taken up in Dan Ofori's paper with the title: "Business' Corporate Social Responsibility: Theory, Opinion and Evidence from Ghana". The paper explores the extent to which Ghanaian businesses have a socially responsible disposition in their business practices. To do so, he compared the views and actions of local Ghanaian companies in various areas of corporate social responsibility with those of foreign owned companies operating in Ghana. The key findings of the study were that, international firms tend to be guided a lot more by strategic and moral considerations about their social responsibilities than local Ghanaian firms. Granting that the results can be generalised for other local firms in Ghana (and, by extension, local African firms in general) Ofori's study raises important questions with regard to the contributions that these firms make to the attainment of the developmental goals of their nations and policies that could be crafted to guide them to broaden their views on their social responsibilities. It also suggests a need for increased research into this subject not only for purposes of improving academic knowledge, but also to provide useful guidelines for policy and strategy formulation for African nations.
Kuada's paper dwells on the difficulties of learning and knowledge transfer from developed country firms to African firms. He identifies three key determinants of knowledge transfer outcomes: (1) cultural sensitivity (2) transfer and learning/absorptive capacity of partners, and (3) the strategic importance and uniqueness of the relationships. Based on empirical evidence drawn from Danish-Ghanaian inter-firm collaborations, the paper argues that the impact of culture on managerial behavior in knowledge receiving organizations can influence the learning capacity of the employees in the organizations. An awareness of this impact by knowledge providers is very helpful in designing the knowledge transfer process. Furthermore, sensitivity to cultural rules of communication is essential in every cross-cultural knowledge transfer process.
Together, these papers highlight some of the economic and social challenges that African nations and businesses face. As would be expected, the authors have not provided any "one best" solution to these problems. But they have teased out highly valuable policy and strategy implications from their studies and provide useful guidelines for future research.
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