Management Development and Training in Africa
Africa, like most developing regions around the world, has suffered from shortcomings in the area of management development and training. Efforts to develop a unique and effective set of management principles for Africa have often been hampered by misconceptions about the region. For example, it has often been assumed, even in the face of extensive anthropological evidence to the contrary, that the traditional ideas, institutions and beliefs that existed in Africa prior to colonization were little more than primitive. Acting as if African history did not begin until the colonies were established, those seeking to assist Africa in its development efforts have often ignored the deep-rooted social and cultural traditions and norms that have existed in Africa for centuries, as well as the unique ways that the community organized economic and political activities. Another issue, of course, is the paternalistic emphasis on age that prevails among African organizations and which has clearly impeded the development of management development and training programs. Traditionally, senior managers in Africa moved to their positions “through the ranks” largely based on tenure as opposed to training and education. As a result, organizations generally saw little reason to devote resources to training younger workers in management techniques when it would be years before they reached a level where they would be exercising managerial authority and it was assumed that by that time they would have learned all they needed to know through the aging process and observation of their elders. Finally, until recently there have been relatively few undergraduate or graduate business programs in business administration in Africa and only a small percentage of the graduates of Africa universities have chosen to specialize in business-related fields. This report explores some of the important issues surrounding management developing and training in Africa.