Call for Papers
Special Issue: “The Internationalization of African Firms: Nature, Drivers, Outcomes and 
Boundary Conditions”

Proposed Deadline for submission of Manuscripts: 30 December, 2016

Africa’s participation in international business and world trade has been a topic of intense 
scholarly, practitioner and policy debates for several decades (Ibeh, Wilson, & Chizema, 
2012). While some have argued that Africa economies are improving and becoming 
relevant in the international business arena (Marzo & Patterson, 2010), there is a growing 
contention that Africa is still unable to contribute meaningfully to the global economy 
given the dominance of commodities and raw materials in Africa’s international trade 
activities (Henson, Masakure, & Cranfield, 2011). While the debates continue, evidence is 
emerging to suggest that the speed, scope and scale at which African firms have been 
investing in the global economy is growing (McNamee, Pearson & Boer, 2015; Krüger & 
Strauss, 2015). For example, in the financial services industry, more than 70 African 
banks have emerged to become dominant international players (Beck, Fuchs, Singer & 
Witte, 2014): Ecobank, Standard Bank and First National Bank individually hold over 30% 
of banking assets in nine countries. Beyond banking, African multinationals have emerged 
in the telecommunications, manufacturing, energy, agribusiness, aviation, and technology 
sectors, with firms such as MTN, SABMiller, Telkom, Dimensions Data, Massmart, 
Nampak, Shoprite, Dangote, Oando, Glo, Interswitch, Nakumatt, Smile and Sasol 
expanding to several countries and positioning themselves as major international players 
(Adeleye, Ibeh, Kinoti & White, 2015). 

Given these impressive performances of African multinationals on the global stage in 
recent times, the Boston Consulting Group have identified 40 African global challengers, 
18 from Southern Africa, 17 from North Africa region, 3 from Western Africa, 2 from 
South-Eastern Africa. There are five categories of these African challengers: The Big 
Local Players: these are African multinationals with assets and sales which are more than 
90% domestic, but continue to record impressive international activity gradually; the 
Exporters: these are firms that have a vast majority of their coming from exporting 
operations, but have assets that are largely local; the Regional Players: African firms 
with at least 10% of their assets located outside of their home country but within Africa; 
the Multi-continental Players having at least 10% of their assets outside of Africa; and the 
Global Players comprising of African multinationals with more than half of their assets 
outside of the continent. 

The current trend in the internationalization of African firms reveals a picture of a unique 
variety of factors propelling African firms to internationalize: reliance on formal and 
informal networking ties; the tendency to serve regional African markets; the dominance 
of the service sector, rising number of early stage and minority entrepreneurs, among 
others. Given the rising number of African firms on the international stage, Africa has 
recently been captured in the global press for being at the receiving end of burgeoning 
international business and politics (Schwarz & Yellin, 2013). For example, a recent Ernest 
and Young’s business attractiveness survey concluded that “While skeptics still abound […] 
a critical mass of African economies have grown at high and sustained rates; so much so 
that, despite the impact of the ongoing global economic situation, the size of the African 
economy has more than tripled since 2000. The outlook also appears positive, with many 
parts of the region forecast to continue experiencing relatively high growth rates and a 
number of African economies predicted to remain among the fastest growing in the world 
for the foreseeable future” (Ernest and Young, 2013: 4). Notwithstanding these promising 
trajectories, several issues remain unresolved. For example, questions are asked about 
how much of these international business activities are truly Africa originated and 
whether African firms are ready to handle the influx of foreign multinationals hurrying to 
Africa to take advantage of the emerging opportunities on the continent (Bräutigam & 
Xiaoyang, 2011). The increasing internationalization of African markets has also drawn 
attention to related issues of Africa’s inadequate infrastructure, undersupplied skilled 
workforce, weak market-supporting institutions, militarized borders, and heterogeneous 
socio-cultural terrain. 

Despite these unique but intriguing features, empirical research directly examining the 
nature, drivers, outcomes and boundary conditions of the internationalization behavior of 
African firms is lacking. While recent scholarly international business (IB) works have 
focused on economic renaissance occurring in Africa (Nwankwo, 2012) and with leading 
IB scholars calling for greater coverage of African related topics in the IB literature (e.g., 
Teagarden, 2009; Babarinde, 2009), scholarly efforts to understand how African firms are 
strategically managed for international competitiveness have only recently begun to take 
shape (e.g., Kropp, Lindsay, & Shoham, 2006; Fukunishi, 2009). This call, therefore, is an 
attempt to draw scholarly attention to interesting and challenging research themes on 
African firms investing in the global economy. To this end, this call seeks manuscripts 
that help enrich scholarly understanding of how conditions in Africa help explain the 
nature, drivers, outcomes and boundary conditions of internationalization behavior of 
African firms. Studies that examine international business activities of African firms of all 
sizes (including micro, small and large multinational enterprises) and ownership forms 
(e.g., state-owned, privately-owned, private-public partnership enterprises) are welcome. 
We welcome both conceptual and empirical (quantitative, qualitative or mixed method) 
papers that address the following research questions or topics: 
1.	Do African firms exhibit unique internationalization behaviors that can help extent 
extant IB theory?
2.	What are the motivations for, and outcomes of, Africa-to-Africa internationalization 
3.	Do similar-aged African multinationals internationalize in the same manner as other 
emerging market or developed economy multinationals? 
4.	Do African foreign direct investors emphasize different factors than non-African 
investors in deciding if and how to invest in Africa? 
5.	Do African multi-continental and global players emphasize different factors when 
investing in Africa than non-African countries? 
6.	What are ownership advantages in the context of intra-African Foreign Direct 
Investment (FDI)? How can internationalizing African firms help broaden the concept of 
ownership advantages? 
7.	How do the springboard and linkage-leverage-learning perspectives apply to 
internationalizing African firms?
8.	To what extent do colonial heritage influence location decisions of internationalizing 
African firms? Do regional economic blocs (e.g. Economic Community of West African 
States) and trade agreements play a role in the international location decisions of 
internationalizing African firms?
9.	What kinds of resources and capabilities do African firms need to internationalize 
10.	To what extent can managerial network ties help or hurt internationalization of 
African firms?
11.	Do rapidly internationalizing African firms perform better than their counterparts 
that follow a more gradual process of internationalization? 
12.	How do institutional conditions in African markets help African firms penetrate and 
grow in foreign markets with similar conditions?
13.	How do industry-, country-, sub-regional-, regional-specific or firm-specific factors 
condition the international performance effects of international strategies of African 
14.	What role does stakeholder engagement play in the internationalization of African 
15.	Can international companies operating in African markets enhance their 
performance by being good corporate citizens? Does commitment to corporate social 
responsibility (CSR) and sustainability initiatives translate into positive financial results in 
Africa? What factors moderate the impact of CSR and sustainability strategies on 
performance for internationalizing African firms?

Kindly note that the above listed research questions or topics are in no way exhaustive. 
We encourage authors to think about research questions that creatively address the core 
theme of the special issue call.

Guest Co-Editors:	
Dr. Nathaniel Boso, University of Leeds, UK
Prof. Kevin Ibeh, Birkbeck University of London, UK
Prof. Amon Chizema, University of Birmingham, UK
Dr. Ifedapo Adeleye, Lagos Business School, Nigeria

Guidelines and Submission Information
All manuscripts should be submitted to the special issue at manuscript central at: Authors must follow directions for submission for 
submitting manuscripts to TIBR, which available at
6874/homepage/ForAuthors.html. It is important for authors to note that all papers 
submitted to the Special Issue will be subjected to double-blind peer review in accordance 
with TIBR guidelines. For further information please contact any of the Guest Editors for 
this Special Issue. 

A special paper development workshop will be organized on this theme at the Academy of 
International Business Sub-Sahara Africa Conference in August 2016 in Lagos, Nigeria. 

Adeleye, I., Ibeh, K., Kinoti, A. & White, L. (2015). The Changing Dynamics of 
International Business in Africa. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 
Babarinde, O. A. (2009). Africa is open for business: A continent on the move. 
Thunderbird International Business Review, 51(4), 319-328.
Bräutigam, D. & Xiaoyang, T. (2011). African Shenzhen: China's special economic zones in 
Africa. Journal of Modern African Studies, 49, 1, 27-54.
Ernst and Young (2013). Getting Down to Business: 2013 Attractiveness Survey. Ernst and 
Young: Emerging Markets Center.
Fukunishi, T. (2009). Has Low Productivity Constrained the Competitiveness of African 
Firms? A Comparison of Kenyan and Bangladeshi Garment Firms. The Developing 
Economies, 47(3), 307-339.
Henson, S., Masakure, O., & Cranfield, J. (2011). Do fresh produce exporters in sub-
Saharan Africa benefit from GlobalGAP certification? World Development, 39(3), 375-386.
Ibeh, K., Wilson, J., & Chizema, A. (2012). The internationalization of African firms 1995–
2011: Review and implications. Thunderbird International Business Review, 54(4), 411-
Kropp, F., Lindsay, N. J., & Shoham, A. (2006). Entrepreneurial, market, and learning 
orientations and international entrepreneurial business venture performance in South 
African firms. International Marketing Review, 23(5), 504-523.
Krüger, R. & Strauss, I. (2015) “Africa rising out of itself: The growth of intra-African FDI”, 
Columbia FDI Perspectives, 139: January 19.
Marzo, F., & Patterson, S. (2010). Africa’s outlook. OECD Observer, 279, 64–65.
McNamee, T., Pearson, M. & Boer, W. (2015) Africans Investing in Africa: Understanding 
Business and Trade, Sector by Sector. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Nwankwo, S. (2012). Renascent Africa: Rescoping the landscape of international business. 
Thunderbird International Business Review, 54(4), 405-409.
Schwarz, G. and Yellin, J. (2013). Obama in Tanzania, sees Africa as next global economic 
success. Available online at
Teagarden, M. B. (2009). Sub‐Saharan Africa at a key inflection point. Thunderbird 
International Business Review, 51(4), 317-318.

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