Africa rising: Opportunities for advancing theory on people, institutions, and the nation state in international business

Lilac Nachum, Charles E. Stevens, Aloysius Newenham-Kahindi, Sarianna Lundan, Elizabeth L. Rose, Leonard Wantchekon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Africa is rising, but IB scholars have largely failed to take notice. We argue that this is a missed opportunity. Not only is Africa a dynamic and distinctive region, but its rise presents a number of puzzles for international business (IB) research, with phenomena that seem to challenge fundamental assumptions underlying IB theories. In order to unravel these puzzles and better explain business dynamics on the continent, we contend that there is a need for IB theorizing to place greater emphasis on the role of people, to balance IB’s traditional emphasis on institutions, location-specific assets, and other macro-level attributes. We explore how this conceptual shift presents new avenues for inquiry into issues that are of importance for IB but have received limited attention to date. Such issues include entrepreneurial human capital, social networks, institutional co-evolution, and the informal economy. As such, we argue that, while extant theories in IB inform explanations and predictions regarding business activity across the continent, Africa’s diverse and distinctive characteristics offer the potential to serve as a context for testing and developing generalizable, cutting-edge IB theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)938-955
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


  • Africa
  • diaspora
  • entrepreneurship
  • human capital
  • international business theory
  • network relations theory


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