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The internationalization of African firms 1995–2011 : review and implications

Ibeh, Kevin and Wilson, Juliette and Chizema, A (2012) The internationalization of African firms 1995–2011 : review and implications. Thunderbird International Business Review, 54 (4). 411–427. ISSN 1096-4762

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Abstract

This article draws on aggregate evidence from 54 relevant studies to improve understanding of internationalization behavior of African firms. Its major findings include an upward trend in internationalization activities among African firms; a significant level of informal exporting (which indicates a potential for further growth in firm-level internationalization within Africa); and the importance of managerial and organizational resource factors and formal and informal networks in improving the internationalization behavior of the study firms. Based on the review evidence, the article calls on African governments and supranational institutions to prioritize the provision of more enabling environments (with lower transaction/operational costs) in Africa. It also tasks policy makers to incorporate well-targeted capacity-building measures (managerial and organizational) and international networks activation mechanisms as part of their core strategies for improving the participation of African firms in global trade. The article ends with an invitation to the world's corporate giants and investors to demonstrate greater resolve toward confronting Africa's developmental challenge, by unleashing their investment resources on the many and varied opportunities offered by the continent.