Theorizing international business in Africa: A roadmap

Helena Barnard, Kenneth Amaeshi, Paul M. Vaaler

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


International business in Africa is complicated by colonial history, late internationalization, and the growing interest of various foreign powers in Africa and its resources. We share key indicators about African countries and offer a conceptual map to help make sense of this complex scholarly terrain. We distinguish between three types of multinational enterprises (MNEs) operating in sub-Saharan Africa: Advanced MNEs (from high-income previous colonial and non-colonial countries), Emerging MNEs (from middle-income countries both inside and outside the region) and Nascent MNEs (from low-income African countries). We show how these distinct types of MNEs provide different development opportunities, how they engage differently with local, national, regional, and supra-national institutions, and why this matters for international business policy. We show how the papers showcased in this special issue contribute to a deeper understanding of international business in Africa and propose future research directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-407
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of International Business Policy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Academy of International Business.


  • Africa
  • China
  • Colonialism
  • Geo-political tensions
  • Positionality


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