1. AFRICA BUSINESS RESEARCH AS A LABORATORY FOR THEORY-BUILDING:EXTREME CONDITIONS, NEW PHENOMENA, AND ALTERNATIVE PARADIGMS OF SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS
Helena Barnard, Alvaro Cuervo-Cazurra, and Stephan Manning
Africa is an increasingly important business context, yet we still know little about it. We review the challenges and opportunities that firms in Africa face and propose that these can serve as the basis for extending current theories and models of the firm. We do so by challenging some of the implicit assumptions and stereotypes on firms in Africa and by proposing three avenues for extending theories. One is taking the extreme conditions of some Africa countries and using them as a laboratory for modifying current theories and models of the firm, as we illustrate in the case of institutional theory and the resource-based view. A second one is identifying new themes that arise from analyzing firms in Africa and their contexts of operation, and we discuss four themes: migrating multinationals and the meaning of home country, diaspora networks within and across countries, a recasting of cultural and institutional distance, and new hybrid organizational forms. A third one is developing new theories based on alternative paradigms of social relationships that have emerged in Africa that differ from those underpinning existing theories of the firm, such as kgotla and its view of community-based relationships or ubuntu and its humanizing view of relationships.
KEYWORDS: Africa, context, context, emerging markets, international business, theory deelopment
2. EARLY NETWORK EVENTS IN THE LATER SUCCESS OF CHINESE ENTREPRENEURS
Ronald S. Burt and Sonja Opper
We trace the social networks around Chinese entrepreneurs back to their firm’s founding to learn about the role early events play in the later success of a business. We use name generator questions paired with career history questions to identify ‘event contacts’ missed by the usual focus on current business. We draw four conclusions from interviews with a large, stratified random sample of entrepreneurs: (1) Relations with event contacts stand out for guanxi qualities of high trust relatively independent of the surrounding network structure, and are critical to distinguishing more successful entrepreneurs from the less successful. (2) The substance of a significant event matters less than the fact that the entrepreneur deems it significant. (3) When family is turned to for support it is most likely at founding, but family is not the usual source of support at founding. Rather, entrepreneurs turn to people they have known for many years, typically people beyond the entrepreneur’s family. (4) The transition from founding to first significant event stands out as distinctly consequential for later success. Entrepreneurs who turn for help on their first significant event to a person separate from, but especially close to, the founding contact are more successful in their business development. That early move is not visible in the later network around the entrepreneur.
KEYWORDS: Chinese management, entrepreneurship, guanxi, network events, social networks
3. INSTITUTIONAL LINKAGES WITH THE STATE AND ORGANIZATIONAL PRACTICES IN CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: EVIDENCE FROM CHINA
Jianhua Ge and Wei Zhao
To deepen our understanding of organizations’ heterogeneous responses to institutional demand, we develop a ‘relational complexity’ argument to highlight organizations’ diverse institutional linkages as another important source of practice variation. We argue that diverse relations between organizations and the institutional authority can filter distinct institutional pressures and expectations, shape organizational interpretations of environmental demands, and thus trigger heterogeneous organizational practices. We adopt this theoretical framework and distinguish two distinct types of institutional linkages with the state to understand different adoption patterns in corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the early stage of CSR diffusion in China. Based on a national survey dataset consisting of 1,268 firms, our analyses show that firms having a stronger bureaucratic linkage with the state tend to focus on more visible external-oriented CSR practices. In contrast, those firms forming a closer partnership with the state through political or semi-political associations are more likely to take more extensive adoptions by further developing internal CSR structures. This study enriches the institutional analyses by shifting our attention to the relational dynamics between organizations and institutional authority as a key source of practice variation. It also has important implications to the research and practices of CSR in emerging economies.
KEYWORDS: China, corporate social responsibility (CSR), institutional linkage, practice variation, relational complexity
4. MANAGERIAL TIES, MARKET ORIENTATION, AND EXPORT PERFORMANCE: CHINESE FIRMS EXPERIENCE
Hui Yan, Xinming He, and Binwu Cheng
Managerial ties (MT) are important for business performance by providing firms access to valuable resources and protecting them from opportunism. Drawing on the resource-based view and the market orientation (MO) literature, we argue that (1) MT can help exporting firms to enhance export performance; and (2) MO will help strengthen the positive effect of MT as MO directs the value of MT for improvement of competitive strategy and customer experience with a market focus on generation, dissemination and use of market intelligence concerning existing and potential customers and competitors. Using a sample of 230 Chinese exporting firms, we found that MT is linked to superior export performance, and the link is positively moderated by MO. Therefore, this study expands our understanding of how firms can not only improve their export performance through the development of MT, but also use MO to reinforce MT and export performance association.
KEYWORDS: China, export performance, managerial ties, market orientation, resource-based view
5. A PROCESS MODEL OF DYNAMIC CAPABILITY DEVELOPMENT: EVIDENCE FROM THE CHINESE MANUFACTURING SECTOR
Jing Zeng, Colin Simpson, and Binh-Le Dang
Based on longitudinal case studies of manufacturing strategy and implementation at two Chinese manufacturing firms, this paper investigates how these firms develop, manage and deploy dynamic capabilities to renew their resource bases in order to respond to the operational challenges associated with radical technological development. Our analysis suggests that dynamic capability development is not simply about renewing one specific type of capability, but rather, it is a meta-capability to learn how to repeatedly renew the firm’s overall capability set as a fully integrated package. We further highlight the importance of looking beyond the property of the firm to understand the network level of capability development, including the capabilities of the firm’s partners. This is particularly salient in the context of smart manufacturing where a high level of connectivity among a broader network of partners is required to reap the benefits generated by new technological advances. Our findings provide an important contribution to our knowledge of dynamic capability development in emerging economies in the era of digitalized manufacturing.
KEYWORDS: China, digital manufacturing, dynamic capability development, emerging economies