Volume 12, Issue 2, 2013
African Philosophy of Management
African Philosophy of Management in the Context of African Traditional Cultures and Organisational Culture
The Case of Kenya and Tanzania
Despite the fact that management programmes provided by African universities are based on Western ontology, there exists a philosophy of management that is uniquely African. It is necessary to discover, understand and nurture this philosophy in order to explain why African managers behave in the ways they do. The African philosophy of management is premised on African traditional cultures, which have a strong influence on the organisational culture of African organisations. For example, despite many Africans undertaking university degrees based on Western ontology at home and overseas, they inadvertently revert to African management philosophy in their (African) organisations. Consequently, the African philosophy of management significantly affects how African managers manage African organisations. The location of the author’s research for this paper is the neighbouring East African nations of Kenya and Tanzania. Although the limitation of the research to these two countries means that the research findings cannot be generalised to other African economies, it may nevertheless point to possible patterns of African management philosophy to be found in other economies of sub-Saharan Africa. Arguably, African management philosophy plays a key role at different levels in African organisations, with both positive and negative consequences. This paper explores such a role and its consequences. It also examines its implications for socio-economic development and social advancement for African peoples. It is widely accepted, for example, that African institutions
and organisations are very corrupt. Africans do not have a monopoly on corruption, but a question of interest for this paper is whether the African philosophy of management contributes to corruption in the two countries on which this paper focuses, and what inferences may be drawn for other economies in sub-Saharan Africa. This paper includes both conceptual and field research in its exploration of the African philosophy of management. It is premised on the view that, while the Western world may not recognise or even think about an African philosophy of management, such a philosophy does exist. The effective management of African private and public organisations is not possible, if the African philosophy of management is not understood and accommodated in the management of African organisations. An understanding is critical for socio-economic development and social advancement, especially for Africans in Kenya and Tanzania, and also for the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.