In many countries managing and developing diversity is on the political and business agenda and has become an area of knowledge and practice in its own right. Yet all too often, diversity management and diversity research has been found to be US-centred, monoculturally infused and biased (e.g., Jonsen et al., 2011; Nishii & Ozbilgin, 2007). At the same time, we know that diversity and equality at work cannot be treated as a unifying concept, nor be interpreted uniformly across cultures and countries. This has also been highlighted, for example, by the former volumes on country perspectives on equal treatment and diversity, edited by Klarsfeld (2010) and Klarsfeld et al. (2014).
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Special Issue for the Africa Journal of Management on Sustainability and Global Value Chains in Africa
There is increasing interest in economic growth and sustainability in African countries (Africa Report, 2011). The escalation of social, political, and ecological problems on the continent since the end of the 20th century (Neff, 2007; Zoogah, 2013) has been accompanied by commensurate escalation in the continent’s potential to contribute demographically, politically, socially and economically to global prosperity (Africa Report, 2011). While environmental, social and economic performance of most African nations and companies are below the levels of other world regions, the continent has the youngest average age among all on the planet, and is a focus of global investment and development. As a result, the Agenda 2063 and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) seek not only to harness the large market size of Africa but also to establish mechanisms that enable African economies to create enabling environments that support vibrant businesses without harming people and the natural environment. African conceptualizations of prosperity itself can provide a template for innovative business and public policies that can shape new approaches to development for both the private and public sectors. Engagement of all sectors is critical to the achievement of economic goals, such as those expressed under AfCFTA (Ghadge et. al., 2019) and as the UN Sustainable Development Goals under the UN Global Compact. Private-sector organizations – including corporations and non-governmental agencies – working together with representatives from all levels of government -- highlight the important role of Africa in scaling sustainable solutions to the most pressing problems in the world today.
As a follow-up to the Professional Development Workshop (PDW) on Tribal Identity and the Challenge of Building Inclusive Organizations in Africa, held at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management in Boston, we decided to organize a special issue to explore in-depth the topic of tribal identity, diversity, and inclusion in African organizations. Since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been increased interest of management scholars and practitioners in Africa as indicated by conferences, symposia, and academic publications (Nkomo, Zoogah, & Acquaah, 2015; Walsh, 2011, 2015; Zoogah, Peng, & Woldu, 2015). One of the key motivations is to understand the continent which is “marked by fast growth, limited growth, or no growth at all, Africa’s business, government, and civil sectors all need world-class management.”1 As a result, several scholars have called for examining the different factors that may affect institutional and organizational effectiveness in Africa. Among such factors is the tribe (George et al., 2016; Zoogah, 2016) which undergirds not only socio-economic and political interactions but also entrepreneurial, organizational, and relational aspects of management (Zoogah, 2019). As George et al. (2016: 389) indicate, the profusion and diversity of tribes in Africa “raise interesting questions of managing and motivating employees to perform, as well as challenge the assumptions and boundary conditions that underpin constructs such as trust, justice, and identity.”
The South African Journal of Business Management (SAJBM) has been disseminating research that has real significance for management and leadership theory and practice. The focus of the journal falls into two categories within the business environment, namely managerial and leadership theory and management and leadership practice. A review of the articles published in the SAJBM, specifically relating to women employees, managers, leaders and entrepreneurs, revealed that twelve articles were published over a 40 year period, with the first, authored by Sandra van der Merwe and titled “A portrait of the South African woman manager”, appearing in 1979, ten years after the initiation of the SAJBM.
AFAM (Africa Academy of Management) is an international group of academics and practitioners who are interested in knowledge about management and organizations in Africa. Alongside AFAM News, we also have a biennial AFAM Conference, the Africa Journal of Management (AJOM), and the AFAM website www.africaacademyofmanagement.org.
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We are about three weeks away from the 5th Biennial conference to be held at Lagos Business School, Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos, Nigeria from January 8-11, 2020. The conference theme is Globalization, Pan Africanism, and the African Business Climate. A draft preliminary program is on our website. I apologize for the delay in getting the completed program to you earlier than now. It is because of coordination challenges with our host. Nonetheless, I believe your will find the conference very meaningful and enjoyable. We have exciting activities including symposia, caucus, professional development workshops, and experiential trips. As you prepare to join us in Lagos, Nigeria, for the conference, I suggest you review the travel information (included in this newsletter) about hotel, transport, logistics, and general comport.
We encourage members of all Academy divisions, interest groups, and theme committees to submit PDW proposals that explore the African dimensions of management theory and practice and integrate the theme of “2020: Broadening our Sight”. We look forward to proposals that advance knowledge and scholarship in the theory and practice of management among African scholars and/or academics interested in management and organization issues in Africa.