Benjamin Inyang (2008) argues that; “The evolution and development of indigenous management theories and practices in Africa has been seriously affected and retarded by colonialism”. He supports this by stating that a signficant aspect of Colonilasm in Africa was the transfer of Western management theories and practices in order to support the colonial administration. This has left Africa with a universalised management practice that is not culturally appropriate. However, there is also a significant gap in the literature with regards to what is considered an African managerial perspective. Crous (2015) suggests that very little is known about business practices in Africa as a result of a lack of research on African management theories and practices. Various factors such as a lack of funds, research facilities, and knowledge and interest have resulted in the low numbers of research within this topic (Adeoti, et al., 2013).)
This research will look at expanding this idea that insufficient knowledge regarding management theories has stunted the growth in management practices in Africa. This proposal will draw on the research done by Olu?fe??mi Ta?i?wo?. In his TED Talk, Why Africa must become a center of knowledge again, Ta?i?wo? argues that the biggest crisis in Africa today is a knowledge crisis. He supports this by stating that the Atlantic Slave trade was the longest and largest knowledge crisis in history. Africa therefore faces many socio-economic problems because of a lack of knowledge on how to address them. This information sheds significant light on managerial perspectives in Africa. Africa possesses the necessary resources such as labour and land for managers to run efficient and effective businesses that shape the continent for the better. However, what is missing is the knowledge. Olu?fe??mi Ta?i?wo? is not alone in this belief. Rwelamila & Ssegawa (2014) found that projects in Africa fail specifically due poor project management coupled with corruption, vague policy planning, and implementation as well as complex contexts. This all points to an inadequate understanding of and knowledge in what constitutes an African Management Perspective. Conversely, it must be noted that the authors point out that in countries such as South Africa project management is moving in the upward direction.
Despite little understanding and knowledge on African managerial practices and perspectives there are elements that have been identified that highlight where the differences lie between Western and African managerial perspectives. Two well established differences are that of the influence of culture and Ubuntu. Researchers have been able to agree that one element that stands out in influencing the African management perspective is that of Ubuntu (Bhengu, 2014) (Wall, 2016). (The African concept of Ubuntu is about the essence of humanity (Wall, 2016). Furthermore, researchers not only agree that Ubuntu is an element that has influenced the African management perspective but go further in acknowledging that it is key to the potential success and advancement of African management perspectives. “For the good of all humanity, we cannot afford not to embrace Ubuntu-based leadership” (Bhengu, 2014). Van den Heuvel from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam states that: “Ubuntu as a normative concept has the potential to generate a reservoir of unimaginable power.”