Zeitschrift für Unternehmensgeschichte/Journal of Business History
Special Issue: The business from within Africa
African agency in business through history
The business of entrepreneurial agency in Africa brings together a tapestry of activity, networking and economic mobility over several centuries. Historians are exploring this complex integrated web of economic activity relying on multiple disciplinary perspectives. Business people assumed agency in developing extensive exchange networks moving natural resources, agricultural products and locally manufactured goods beyond the borders of local markets. In these entrepreneurial activities women and men collaborated towards social sustainability, but also personal advancement. As the legacy of planning gradually allowed individual and collective agency in business (Natkhov & Pyle, 2022), this is the history of Africa’s entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial families, entrepreneurial corporations and business networks business historians stand to deliver.
The agency of people in enterprise all over Africa has not received systematic attention in Business History. The entrepreneurial role of all the peoples of Africa in different business structures, organisational form and even informal groups, displayed a growing engagement with international business. The collection on business in Africa edited by Falola and Jalloh (Falola T and Jalloh A, 2002) surveyed the landscape of African and African-American business, but now the innovative entrepreneurial businesses amongst all Africa’s peoples justifies a new history. The new lens is the narrative of the long dureé of business agency in Africa. Business men and women built on the deep-rooted legacy of entrepreneurial agency in developing market operations through enterprises of varying size and structure to negotiate the opportunities of Africa in the world. As state intervention in markets slowly contracts, dynamic and innovative business entered both African and global markets.
This development motivated the ZUG to dedicate a Special Issue to the history of business in Africa. This call for contributions seeks to solicit submissions exploring the history of business people and business enterprise in Africa, from earliest times through the discontinuities and complexities of the last half of the twentieth century, to global engagements in recent times. The following questions are driving the enthusiasm for this volume:
- Who were the business leaders of the past and how did they infuse business capacity into the next generation of business leaders in different African contexts?
- Who were the business leaders – men and women?
- How have entrepreneurs adjusted to dynamically changing market trends?
- How have markets in Africa interacted internally and externally with global markets?
- How has the organisation of business changed in different contexts in Africa?
- How have business organisations fostered/undermined business development?
- Has business in Africa benefitted from privatisation?
- How has state regulation impacted business development in Africa?
- How does business in the MENA region align with business in SSA?
Submissions of draft manuscript outline (1000 words) with discussion of methodology and preliminary findings 30 June 2023.
The Editors of the ZUG will communicate acceptance of manuscript submissions by 15 July 2023. Final manuscripts for publication are due by 30 November 2023.
Prof Grietjie Verhoef, University of Johannesburg, South Africa firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prof Ayodeji Olukoju, University of Lagos, Nigeria email@example.com
Akinyoade, A., Dietz T., and Uche, C. (2017). Entrepreneurship in Africa. Brill Publishers.
Falola, T. and Jalloh A. (2002). Black Business and Economic Power. Rochester University Press.
Natkhov, T., & Pyle, W. (2022). Revealed in Transition: The Political Effect of Planning’s Legacy. www.RePEc.org
Ochonu, M. (2018). Entrepreneurship in Africa: A Historical Approach. Indiana University Press.