AMR Paper Draft Development Workshop - Developing Theories of Management and Organization Grounded in African Experience
German University in Cairo (GUC)
This paper draft development workshop (PDDW) is aimed at exploring the opportunities and processes for developing theories of management and organization that are indigenous to Africa.
Despite its long history and rich context, Africa has not yet been adequately figured in theories of management and organization (Dana, Ratten, & Honyenuga, 2018; George, Corbishley, Khayesi, Haas, & Tihanyi, 2016; Inyang, 2008; Nkomo, Zoogah, & Acquaah, 2015; Zoogah, 2008). There are sporadic references to how some limited observation of, or experience in, Africa inspired this or that management scholar in their theoretical thoughts; as is narrated about Elton Mayo and how the position that he briefly held at a gold mining company in Obuasi in West Africa informed some of his later writings (Trahair, 2017). But when it comes to serious engagement with African cultures and experiences, the existing management and organization studies have to date been dominated by prescriptive writings that argue for how things “ought to be viewed” rather than how things “are viewed” (Nkomo, 2011). Theories, however, are most often built upon a corpus of descriptive inquiries that accurately document the views, practices, and relationships that are relevant to the phenomenon under study. Developing theories of management and organization that are grounded in African experience must be rooted in how people in different regions of Africa understand collective goals and structures, and how they have been going about cooperating and coordinating their activities in social, cultural, and economic realms for millennia.
One stream of research that has been particularly keen on foregrounding context is the emerging literature on “indigenous” theories of management and organization (Jack et al., 2013; March, 2004; Tsui, 2004; also see the 2012 special issue of Management and Organization Review on “Indigenous management research in China”). Disenchanted by the generalized, context-free knowledge claims that characterize the mainstream of management and organization research, some scholars have highlighted that such knowledge claims are often rooted in and reproducing the values, worldviews, and histories of North America and Europe (Jack & Westwood, 2009; Prasad, 2003; Tsui, 2007). The Western theories of management and organization, nonetheless, have been adopted and perpetuated all over the world, in contexts that are completely alien to the cultural heritage of the West. The globalization and sacralization of these knowledge claims as “the truth” has contributed to the neocolonial cultural genocide of indigenous people, effectively silencing and masking a wealth of alternative forms of knowledge and experience (Ahmad, 1992; Jaya, 2001). Africa has been the most visible victim of this cultural hegemony as Africans have been denied of their voice, agency, and anchoring narratives for more than five centuries (Asante, 2014).
This paper draft development workshop (PDDW) is aimed at exploring the opportunities and processes for developing theories of management and organization that are indigenous to Africa. The aim is to develop indigenous theories not necessarily with a capital “I” (i.e. to be purely African, devoid of all external influences, as if it is at all possible), but indigenous with a small “i” (i.e. to be primarily drawing on and accounting for African experiences). Thus, it is not a forum for discussing Africa as yet another context for testing and elaborating on the existing Western theories (e.g. George et al., 2016); rather, it is a forum for discussing how the diverse, rich lifeworlds of African people can inform our understanding of management and organization, and enable us to develop new theories (e.g. Barnard, 2020; Hamann, et al., 2020; Shadnam, in press; Zoogah, Peng, & Woldu, 2015). Some notable attempts in this direction include development of concepts such as ubuntu (Karsten & Illa, 2005; Lutz, 2009; Mangaliso, 2001; Seremani & Clegg, 2016), indaba (Horwitz, Kamoche, & Chew, 2002; Newenham-Kahindi, 2009), omoluwabi (Àjàdí, 2012; Ogbechie & Anakwue, 2018), and shemsw (Zoogah, 2020). But given the norms and tastes that are dominant in the contemporary academia with respect to theory and theorizing (DiMaggio, 1995; Sutton & Staw, 1995; Weick, 1995), developing theories of management and organization must not only rely on concepts, but also sets of interrelated propositions, predictions, arguments, and explanations that uncover the connections between various phenomena and shed light on the underlying mechanisms (for several meanings of theory, see Sandberg & Alvesson, in press). This is a challenging endeavor as it requires knowledge of both established tools of theory development as well as African ways of constructing knowledge. Without this dual capacity, there is the danger that writers of African accounts of organizational life and those writing from Western traditions will talk past each other (Hamminga, 2005; Nkomo, 2017). For researchers who aspire to develop their dual capacity toward developing theories of management and organization grounded in African experience, this PDDW will provide disciplined guidance and constructive feedback from seasoned scholars who are serving on the editorial team of AMR. The goal is to help prospective contributors to develop their ideas and create an outline that serve as a foundation for submission to AMR or other theory journals.
The PDDW will take place over two consecutive days:
Day 1 of PDDW:
- Introductory remarks from PDDW organizers and AMR team: To discuss the importance of African experiences
- Roundtable discussion groups: pre-formed groups meet to discuss their introductions and get high-level feedback from AMR Editorial team, the Event Organizers, and other participants
- AMR-led presentation: Making a theoretical contribution and structuring an introduction; during this time, authors will be asked to engage in exercises related to writing their introduction
- Individual work: Participants use the learnings and exercise material to rewrite their introduction
Day 2 of PDDW:
- Introductory remarks: Overview of the day and encouragement
- Reshuffled roundtable discussion groups: Brief presentations by authors of their “redesigned introductions”
- AMR-led presentation: Structuring and developing the rest of the paper; authors will engage in exercises helping them develop a detailed outline of the rest of their paper
- Panel discussion of PDDW organizers and AMR team: Reflections of the ideas and steps for moving forward
Where & When
- Venue: German University in Cairo (GUC), Cairo, Egypt
- Dates: January 6-7, 2022 (The dates are right before the 6th Biennial Conference of the Africa Academy of Management, which is going to be held on 8-10 January in the same venue.)
The following process is designed to be primarily developmental rather than adjudicational:
Read the following six articles to help you in crafting your idea submissions:
- Barnard, H., Cuervo-Cazurra, A., & Manning, S. 2017. Africa business research as a laboratory for theory-building: Extreme conditions, new phenomena, and alternative paradigms of social relationships. Management and Organization Review, 13(3): 467-495.
- Barney, J. 2018. Editor’s comments: Positioning a theory paper for publication. Academy of Management Review, 43(3): 345-348.
- Cornelissen, J. 2017. Editor’s comments: Developing propositions, a process model, or a typology? Addressing the challenges of writing theory without a boilerplate. Academy of Management Review, 42(1): 1-9.
- Lange, D., & Pfarrer, M. D. 2017. Editor’s comments: Sense and structure – the core building blocks of an AMR article. Academy of Management Review, 42(3): 407-416.
- Nkomo, S. M. 2017. Time to look in the mirror: Producing management theory and knowledge for Africa. Africa Journal of Management, 3(1): 7-16.
- Zoogah, D. B., Peng, M. W., & Woldu, H. 2015. Institutions, resources, and organizational effectiveness in Africa. Academy of Management Perspectives, 29(1): 7-31.
Submission: Prepare and submit a 5-page introduction outlining your core ideas and arguments (~1,000 words excluding references) before 1 July 2021. The introductions should be sent as WORD or PDF files to AMR’s Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Thatcher, via email@example.com.
Announcement of Results: All authors will receive feedback on their submissions by September 1st, 2021. The authors of introductions that are deemed to have the most promise to be developed into article-length theoretical manuscripts will be invited to participate in the PDDW.
- Sherry M. B. Thatcher (University of South Carolina, United States, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Masoud Shadnam (University of Nottingham Ningbo China, China, email@example.com)
- Stella Nkomo (University of Pretoria, South Africa, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- David Zoogah (Xavier University, United States, email@example.com)
This PDDW is endorsed by Academy of Management (AOM) and Africa Academy of Management (AFAM).
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