Africa

31 Results

 

Climbing Down from the Ivory Tower

Nava Ashraf explains why it makes sense for field researchers to co-produce knowledge with the people they study and serve. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Building Histories of Emerging Economies One Interview at a Time

Much of modern business history has been written on experiences in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Now, the unheard stories of emerging markets in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are being told on a new website by the Business History Initiative. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

Stressing Safety in South Africa’s Platinum Mines

Gautam Mukunda discusses why and how he teaches a case study about Cynthia Carroll, the first woman and non-South African to serve as chief executive of mining giant Anglo American. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

HBS Faculty Remember Nelson Mandela

Harvard Business School faculty Nitin Nohria, Linda Hill, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, and Gautam Mukunda remember Nelson Mandela, a leader who truly made a difference in the world. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

The Curse of Double-Digit Growth

Liberia wants fast growth in order to solidify its social and political advances. Problem is, says Eric D. Werker, countries growing that quickly "are not unequivocally a club that one should strive to join." Closed for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Learning from Double-Digit Growth Experiences

Double-digit growth in real GDP is defined as a compound annual growth rate of 10 percent or more over a period of eight years or longer. This paper was written as a policy memorandum for the Government of Liberia, which seeks rapid growth in order to reach middle-income status by 2030. For Liberia, current IMF forecasts predict growth in real GDP on the order of 6 to 7 percent per year. The comparative analysis of this paper asks: In what ways do countries growing real GDP at double-digit rates differ from countries growing real GDP at rates of 6-7 percent? Overall, the findings suggest that Liberia is reasonably well positioned to become another country with double-digit growth. Yet as the analysis shows, countries that have attained double-digit growth are not unequivocally a group that one should strive to join. The ultra-rapid growers whose growth has been driven by resources, aid, or remittances have not generally conducted the sorts of reforms to the legal, regulatory, and governance environment that could have generated high growth without such unearned income. They have also not generally invested their rents well in infrastructure or human capital. Moreover, post-conflict double-digit growers have found it difficult to reform or invest well. Read More

Altruistic Capital: Harnessing Your Employees’ Intrinsic Goodwill

Everyone comes to the table with some amount of "altruistic capital," a stock of intrinsic desire to serve, says professor Nava Ashraf. Her research includes a study of what best motivates hairdressers in Zambia to provide HIV/AIDS education in their salons. Closed for comment; 20 Comments posted.

HBS Cases: Against the Grain

Dealing with pervasive, institutionalized corruption is tough but not impossible. A new case study on Tanzania joins a series of cases in professor Karthik Ramanna's research that explore the deep-seated problems of corruption as well as multiple entrepreneurial paths to combat it. Open for comment; 7 Comments posted.

No Margin, No Mission? A Field Experiment on Incentives for Pro-Social Tasks

Organizations from large corporations to NGOs use a range of nonfinancial performance rewards to motivate their employees, and these rewards are highly valued. While theory has suggested mechanisms through which nonfinancial incentives can elicit employee effort, evidence on the mechanisms, and on their effectiveness relative to financial incentives, remains scarce. This paper helps to fill this gap by providing evidence from a collaboration with a public health organization based in Lusaka, Zambia, that recruits and trains hairdressers and barbers to sell condoms in their shops. This setting is representative of many health delivery programs in developing countries where embedded community agents are called upon to deliver services and products, but finding an effective way to motivate them remains a significant challenge. Findings show the effectiveness of financial and nonfinancial rewards for increasing sales of condoms. Agents who are offered nonfinancial rewards ("stars" in this setting) exert more effort than either those offered financial margins or those offered volunteer contracts. Read More

Clear and Present Danger: Planning and New Venture Survival Amid Political and Civil Violence

Strategy theory often takes for granted the role of state institutions in providing stable, predictable environments in which new firms are founded. Yet, many states around the world (such as Iraq, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) lack political institutions of sufficient strength to ensure personal safety and public order, thereby creating environments where civil and political violence can ferment. This paper explores the impact of such violence on new venture processes. Results show that comprehensive planning was negatively correlated with venture survival in such environments. While there are implications for strategy theory, the study is also relevant to entrepreneurs and organizations promoting new venture planning in less-developed countries, particularly those experiencing political and civil turmoil. Currently, prospective entrepreneurs are taught the importance of business planning by both universities and non-governmental organizations that offer entrepreneurial training. But this study suggests that such training will have mixed effects on new venture survival, depending on the extent to which these entrepreneurs pursue ventures in violent and uncertain environments. In such contexts where governments fail to maintain public safety and order, these training programs may actually increase the likelihood of new venture failure. Read More

An Exploration of Luxury Hotels in Tanzania

Tanzania is justly famous for its incredible natural landmarks such as the Rift Valley, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, Mount Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, and, above all, the Serengeti and the Great Migration. Why, despite being so richly endowed in touristic resources, does Tanzania receive relatively few tourists and little revenue from tourism? Diego Comin explored the drivers and influencing factors on the size of the tourism sector, using as a starting point the abnormally high prices of upscale hotels in Tanzania, especially in the safari areas. Findings suggest that the cost of supplying upscale hotel services is not sufficient to explain the abnormally high prices, and the more likely candidate is high markups. Interviews with hotel managers supported this conclusion. In addition, while cross-country differences in demand are large, once we control for these differences, discrepancies in upscale hotel prices account for a significant share of cross-country differences in demand, and cross-country differences in demand are very persistent. On the basis of the role of word-of-mouth, learning by doing, and pecuniary externalities in driving differences in demand, there may be room for the Tanzanian government to induce lower hotel prices and to try to independently increase the foreign perception of the country's attractiveness. Read More

Experimental Researcher Helps Improve Health Care in Zambia

In seven years of field work in Zambia, Africa, professor Nava Ashraf's work is helping get low-cost health care products and services to the people who need them most. From the HBS Alumni Bulletin. Closed for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Mobile Banking for the Unbanked

A billion people in developing countries have no need for a savings account–but they do need a financial service that banks compete to provide. The new HBS case Mobile Banking for the Unbanked, written by professor Kash Rangan, is a lesson in understanding the real need of customers. Closed for comment; 27 Comments posted.

HBS Faculty on Revolution in the Middle East and North Africa

The historic events in North Africa and the Middle East are examined by three professors: Deepak Malhotra, an authority on negotiation strategy; Noel Maurer, an expert on the politics and economics of the energy business; and Magnus Thor Torfason, an authority on how behavior is influenced by the social structures of individuals and organizations. Open for comment; 7 Comments posted.

Strategy and Execution for Emerging Markets

How can multinationals, entrepreneurs, and investors identify and respond to new challenges and opportunities around the world? In this Q&A, HBS professors and strategy experts Tarun Khanna and Krishna G. Palepu offer a practical framework for succeeding in emerging markets. Plus: Book excerpt with action items. Read More

Business Summit: The Evolution of Agribusiness

Agribusiness has come to be seen not just as economically important, but as a critical part of society. The future for this massive industry will be both exciting and complex. Read More

Applying the Care Delivery Value Chain: HIV/AIDS Care in Resource Poor Settings

The prevention and treatment of a complex disease such as HIV/AIDS in resource‐poor settings presents enormous challenges. Many of the social and economic factors that make populations living in these settings vulnerable to HIV/AIDS such as poverty, malnutrition, and political instability conspire to create barriers to effective care delivery. Understanding how interventions are related to each other and how local socioeconomic factors influence them is critical to effective program design. The Care Delivery Value Chain (CDVC) looks at care as an overall system, not as a series of discrete interventions, and describes the activities required to deliver care, illustrating their sequence and organization. Government agencies, philanthropic organizations, and non‐governmental organizations can use the framework to improve HIV/AIDS care delivery. Read More

The Lessons of Business History: A Handbook

Compiling a handbook on the current thinking in any area of study seems daunting enough, but the just-published Oxford Handbook of Business History carries an even larger mission: bring the lessons of business history to current research in other disciplines and to the practice of business management itself. A Q&A with coeditor Geoffrey Jones. Read More

Finding Missing Markets (and a disturbing epilogue): Evidence from an Export Crop Adoption and Marketing Intervention in Kenya

Why do farmers continue to grow crops for local markets when crops for export markets are thought to be much more profitable? Answers may include missing information about the profitability of these crops, lack of access to the necessary capital to make the switch possible, lack of infrastructure necessary to bring the crops to export outlets, high risk of the export markets, lack of human capital necessary to adopt successfully a new agricultural technology, and misperception by researchers and policymakers about the true profit opportunities and risk of crops grown for export markets. Ashraf and colleagues conducted an experimental trial with DrumNet, a social enterprise of Pride Africa, a nongovernmental organization, to evaluate whether a package of services can help farmers adopt, finance, and market export crops, and thus earn more income. This experiment was motivated by a recent push in development to build sustainable interventions that help complete missing markets. Read More

What Do Non-Governmental Organizations Do?

Non-governmental organizations play an increasingly important role in international development. They serve as a funnel for development funds both from individual donors in wealthy countries and from bilateral aid agencies. At the same time, NGOs are frequently idealized as organizations committed to "doing good" while setting aside profit or politics—a romantic view that is too starry-eyed. Development-oriented NGOs, which have existed for centuries, have played a growing role in development since the end of World War II; there are currently 20,000 international NGOs. This paper argues that the strengths of NGOs and their weaknesses easily fit into economists' conceptualization of not-for-profit contractors. Read More

The Business of Global Poverty

Nearly half of the planet's population subsists on $2 a day or less. What role should business play as the world confronts what may be the most explosive socioeconomic challenge of the new century? Read More

Handicapping the Best Countries for Business

India? South Africa? Russia? Which are the best countries for a firm to invest in? In a new book, Professor Richard Vietor looks at the economic, political, and structural strengths and weaknesses of ten countries and tells readers how to analyze the development of these areas in the future. Read our Q&A and book excerpt. Read More

How South Africa Challenges Our Thinking on FDI

After the fall of apartheid, South Africa accepted the standard prescription for countries to receive more foreign direct investment. Yet FDI has been a mere trickle. Why? The answer may reside in the country's strong corporate environment, says HBS professor Eric D. Werker. Read More

Male Circumcision and AIDS: The Macroeconomic Impact of a Health Crisis

The AIDS epidemic is a humanitarian disaster that has struck sub-Saharan Africa with particular severity, but its macroeconomic impact is much less certain. Though conflicting theories abound, empirically-based studies on the link between HIV prevalence rates and economic growth have shown no consensus. Given the significant medical evidence that male circumcision can reduce the risk of contracting HIV in Africa, tribal circumcision practices provide an "experimental" setting to test the impact of the AIDS epidemic on the overall economy. Read More

A Gentler Capitalism: Black Business Leadership in the New South Africa

What role should business play in ameliorating poverty and addressing inequality? Linda A. Hill and Maria Farkas, a doctoral student, examine this question against the backdrop of post-apartheid South Africa. Focusing on the efforts of one successful black executive to recruit and develop other minority managers and integrate blacks into the mainstream economy, Hill and Farkas explore fundamental ethical and business issues affecting companies and society at large. Read More

Globalization: Little Impact on the Continent

Erasing borders may have good and bad effects on the economies of Africa. Under the imperative "There’s no turning back," experts at the conference embraced reality and suggested ways for Africa to benefit from globalization. Read More

AIDS in Africa—What’s the Solution?

The tragedy of AIDS has the potential to decimate society—and of course workforces, too. African-based experts in health care and the pharmaceutical industry traded ideas for alleviating this scourge in a session moderated by Harvard Business School Professor Debora L. Spar. Read More

In Troubled Africa, Botswana Flowers

Quick, name the country with the highest sustained growth in real output over the last forty years. The surprising answer: Botswana. Harvard Business School professor Debora L. Spar discusses the dynamics behind this little-reported story. Read More

Case Study: A Lesson in Private Venture Financing

Using a case discussion on Gray Security Services, Harvard Business School associate professor Walter Kuemmerle highlights issues confronting entrepreneurs and investors interested in Africa. Read More

The Trick of Balancing Business and Government

Institutions, such as a competent judiciary, an efficient civil service, and a good highway system, are all important for African countries. But who creates them? And what should be the role of business in the mix? At an Africa Business Conference panel session called "Institutional Foundations," five experts weighed in. Read More

Adjusting the Fit for Government

It is no simple task to strike the right balance between too much government intervention and not enough. And when corruption has seeped into a society at all levels, it's hard to know how to create an environment that welcomes investors yet does not neglect vital human services such as health care and education. Debating the balance for African societies and business were panelists with personal experience on the continent, in a conversation led by HBS Professor Debora Spar. Read More