A postcolonial analysis of entrepreneurship in Africa

Sambajee, Pratima and Weston, Alia (2015) A postcolonial analysis of entrepreneurship in Africa. In: Academy of Management Conference, 2015-08-07 - 2015-08-11, British Columbia.

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Global measurement of entrepreneurial activity shows that entrepreneurship in Africa is growing. Similarly, research on African entrepreneurs and their entrepreneurial behaviour appear in an increasing number of scholarly articles. However we note an obvious neglect of a context sensitive approach to both the measurement of entrepreneurial activity and researching entrepreneurship in Africa. In this theoretical paper, we use postcolonial theory, and more specifically Edward Said’s idea about the misrepresentation of the Orient by the Occident, to illustrate how existing global measures of entrepreneurial activity fail to provide a real account of entrepreneurship for Africa. We then propose postcolonial theory as a useful analytical tool for researching Africa’s case. To justify this proposal, we analyse the region’s colonial history, large informal sector, heterogeneous population of entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurship and current geopolitical changes. We then use Homi Bhabha’s concept of the ‘third space’ and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s concept of subalternity to critically analyse entrepreneurship research in Africa. To end, we propose a shift towards methodologies which are more context sensitive, recognise the postcolonial setting of Africa and allow agency to emerge during fieldwork.


Sambajee, Pratima ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8867-877X and Weston, Alia;