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Publication: Thunderbird International Business Review
Title: Market Entry into Africa: Acquisitions and International Joint Ventures
Type:Journal Special Issue
Editors:Nnamdi Oguji (University of Vaasa), Owusu Richard (Linnaeus University)
Deadline:October 1, 2018

Thunderbird International Business Review Call for Papers

Special Issue: Market Entry into Africa: Acquisitions and International Joint Ventures. Studies of foreign firm’s market entry strategies, challenges, and performance in Africa."

Deadline for submission of Manuscripts: 31 August 2018

Guest Co-Editors:           

Dr. Nnamdi Oguji

Researcher, University of Vaasa, Finland

Consultant & Business Analyst, KONE Corporation




Dr. Owusu Richard

Associate Professor

School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University, Sweden



 For the past 40 years, while international business (IB) studies have focused on explaining the internationalization of multinational enterprises (MNEs) and the globalization of markets, studies focused on Africa have thus far been limited. Extending IB studies to the African context will improve IB theories as it has been suggested that contextualized explanations improve theorizing in international business studies (Meyer & Peng 2005; Welch, Piekkari, Plakoyiannaki & Paavilainen-Möntymäki 2011). African markets provide a unique context to test IB theories empirically and develop context-specific theories (Van de Ven & Jing 2011). Similar contextualization has been done in transition economies of Central and Eastern Europe (Meyer & Peng 2005), China (Child & Tse 2001), and studies on strategies of emerging market MNEs (Cuervo-Cazurra 2012).

The aim of this special issue is to advance international business in Africa and specifically focus on how foreign firms enter African markets via acquisitions and international joint ventures. It will extend knowledge of these market entry strategies in Africa for research and for foreign firms intending to or currently doing business in Africa.

This special issue will address two important entry mode choices for foreign firms seeking market entry into Africa, the choice of acquisitions (partial and full acquisitions) and international joint ventures. Acquisitions and international joint ventures are gaining importance in Africa (Boateng and Glaister 2003; Dadzie & Owusu 2015) partly due to an increasing consolidation of several industries and economic liberation policies implemented by many Africa countries (UNCTAD 2015).

Africa currently has some of the fastest growing countries in the world (World Bank 2017). It is described as the next frontier for global trade and competition (Teagarden 2009; Peters 2011; Roberts, Kayande & Srivastava 2015: 247). As a result, there is an increasing interest from foreign companies to focus on Africa (Robert et al. 2015: 249). While the interest in investing in Africa is rising, the know-how of business on the continent is very limited.  There have recently been a few special issues focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa in the top international business journals: Vol 17, Issue 6 (Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing 2002); “Sub-Saharan Africa at a key inflection point” (Thunderbird International Business Review 2009); “Contemporary developments in the management of human resources in Africa” (Journal of World Business, 2011); “Contemporary challenges and opportunities of doing business in Africa” (Journal of Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 2016); “Critical perspectives on international business in Africa (Critical Perspectives on International Business, 2016); “Strategic Management in Africa (Global Strategy Journal, 2017) ; and a recent call “The internationalization of African firms” (Thunderbird International Business Review, 2016).

While cross-border acquisition may be the ideal strategy for foreign firms entering Africa, the relative institutional difference between African countries and home countries of foreign firms may make full acquisition entry strategies more challenging. For example, as most African economies rely on natural resources as their primary source of economic revenue, some governments impose several local content legislations to protect indigenous firms (Vaaland, Soneye & Owusu 2012). Local content legislation may hamper feasibility of several M&A deals, and thus, make it more viable for international joint ventures or other forms of acquisition entry strategies (partial and staged acquisitions).

The total value of acquisitions into Africa within the decade 2005-2014 doubled to $79bn compared to $34bn in the previous decade (1995-2004) (UNCTAD 2015). This trend will continue to rise as BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and other foreign corporations continue to invest in Africa for the continent's natural resources, vast untapped agricultural sector and increasing consumer base (Davies & Segain 2014; UNCTAD 2017). Also, there is an increasing trend towards regional M&A activity in Africa (ibid). Irrespective of this positive trend, there is still limited research on cross-border acquisitions into Africa.

Studies focused on cross-border acquisitions explore how organizations select potential acquisition targets, due diligence process, negotiation of acquisition deals, acquisition entry strategies, acquisition integration, acquisition performance and subsidiary exit. To the best of our knowledge, empirical studies focused on cross-border M&As in Africa are scant. The existing studies have mainly been done in the context of Ghana and have focused specifically on the choice between greenfields and acquisitions (Dadzie & Owusu 2015; Dadzie, Owusu, Amoako, & Aklamanu 2017), performance of acquisitions and greenfield investments in Ghana (Dadzie, Larimo & Nguyen 2014) and, recently, a study addressing how host country capability, target specific experience, institutions and host country market structure impact on Finnish firms’ choice for partial, staged and full acquisitions in Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, and South Africa (Oguji & Owusu 2017). This study showed that various firm-related and institutional factors affect the acquisition decisions of Finnish firms and that there has been a change of the emphases between partial and full acquisitions over time. All the above studies are, however, limited in the sense of their empirical research being limited to Ghana, and to Finnish companies. The under-representation of Africa in acquisition research and scholarly journals and the growing cross-border M&A’s into Africa (UNCTAD 2017) suggest the need for more studies that explore various aspects of cross-border acquisitions in the context of Africa.

Similarly, international joint venture (IJV) is a popular entry strategy through which foreign firms gain market entry into Africa (Boateng 2004). It is an entry strategy where two or more legally separate bodies (one a foreign entity) form a separate jointly-owned entity in which they invest and engage in various decision-making activities (Geringer & Hebert 1989; Geringer & Hebert 1991). A review of the literature on IJVs suggest that extant studies focus on motives of IJV formation, partner selection process, how IJVs are formed, trust and commitment in IJVs, ownership and control mechanisms in IJVs, knowledge transfer in IJVs, IJV stability and performance (Vaidya 2009). Studies on IJVs in Africa are limited. Existing studies have been done on the motives of IJV formation (Bartels, Johnson & Ahmed 2002; Boateng & Glaister 2003); ownership and control mechanisms in IJVs (Bartels et al. 2002; Hearn 2015); how IJVs are formed (Gómez-Miranda, Pérez-López, Argente-Linares & Rodríguez-Ariza 2015) and performance of IJVs in Africa (Boateng & Glaister 2002).

Specifically, on IJV formation, one key area of research is on how firms access the needed capital for IJV formation. It is often more difficult for foreign firms to access domestic credit compared to local firms in emerging countries (Moskalev 2010; Beyer & Fening 2012). On this premise, Boateng (2004) studied the capital structure of IJVs in Ghana and found that the size of IJV, type of IJV industry and ownership level of IJV partner have a positive bearing on the capital structure of IJVs in Ghana. According to him, foreign JV partners in Ghana use more debts compared with the host partners because debt capital offers foreign investors greater flexibility in repatriating funds- a strategy to avert the unfavorable tax laws governing the repatriation of dividends in Ghana.

On the motives of IJV formation, Bartels et al. (2002) explored the motives and control mechanisms of 45 British and French equity joint ventures in Ghana and Côte D’Ivoire. They found that while skills acquisition is the most important motivation for IJVs between firms from developed countries, market access, and government suasion are more important for IJVs between firms from developed and developing countries of Ghana and Côte D’Ivoire. Similarly, Boateng & Glaister (2003) studied the strategic motives of international joint venture formation in Ghana and found that the main motivation for IJVs in Ghana is to overcome regulatory restrictions, cost sharing and facilitate international expansion of the foreign partners. 

Regarding ownership and control mechanism, extant studies argue that mechanism for control in IJVs lie on communications, coordination, and IJV functional integration with parent MNEs (Bartels et al. 2002). In the context of Ghana and Côte D’Ivoire, a primary mechanism of control is through the selection and appointment of the IJV Chief Executive Officer (CEO) (ibid). Hearn (2015) extends ownership mechanism to include how the board of the IJVs is constituted and the roles of the IJV board members. He showed that IJVs board members in the Anglo-Saxon economies are recruited from individuals with governmental or political backgrounds (e.g., Hillman, Keim, & Schuler 2004; Hillman 2005; Holburn & Vanden, Bergh 2008; Lester, Hillman, Zardkoohi & Cannella 2008). In Africa, increasing proportions of IJV board members are drawn from indigenous social elites and governments compared to their public company counterparts because of social and political legitimacy concerns (Hearn 2015). Gómez-Miranda et al. (2015) showed that Spanish-Moroccan IJVs utilized a high degree of centralization of decision taking to impact on the competitiveness, effectiveness, and efficiency of their joint venture.

Finally, studies focused on the performance of IJVs in Africa suggest that partner capabilities, capital adequacy, congruity of motives and goals and low levels of control are significant determinants of IJV performance in Ghana (Boateng & Glaister 2002). They also found that IJVs with a private sector host partner are perceived to perform better than IJVs with the host government as a partner.

Thus far, the general conclusion from these studies is that IJVs in Africa often have different characteristics from IJVs in the developed economies and require a different framework to look at the various stages IJVs go through. Besides, Africa is a continent with varying degrees of institutional and cultural differences between countries on the continent. The variation in institutional quality across African continent has been shown to lead to varying degrees of ownership mechanisms and roles of IJV board members (Hearn 2015).

Overall, despite the prevalence of IJVs and cross-border acquisitions in Africa, we lack a detailed understanding of the complete life cycle perspective of acquisitions and IJVs in Africa. Africa provides a unique context to focus IB studies on a coherent theme that provides a useful contribution to theory and practice. 

We seek papers that explore and analyze why foreign firms opt for IJV and acquisition strategies in Africa, how they manage their African subsidiaries and their performance with these entry modes. Furthermore, we seek for mainly empirical research but also some conceptual papers that enrich the contextualization of Africa in international business. Specifically, we seek state-of-the-art empirical and conceptual papers on topics including, but not limited to the following:

Motives and formation of IJVs and Acquisitions in Africa

  • Motives of IJVs and acquisitions in Africa
  • Motives of regional M&A vs. other cross-border M&As.
  • Partner selection in IJVs, targets search and due diligence in acquisitions in Africa
  • How IJVs and acquisitions from western countries in Africa differ from those of emerging market countries such as the BRICS?
  • What are the major trends in IJVs and acquisitions in Africa?

External factors that are affecting IJVs and cross-border M&As in Africa

  • How have institutional changes in African countries affected IJVs and acquisitions in Africa?
  • In which countries are foreign investors utilizing IJVs more than acquisitions and vice versa and why?
  • How do the institutional frameworks in Africa affect IJV & M&A process?
  • What are the obstacles to IJVs and cross-border M&A in Africa?

Entry and Ownership Strategies:  How do foreign firms choose their entry strategies in Africa?

  • How do firms choose between partial, staged, full acquisitions and IJVs?
  • Partial acquisition vs. joint ventures
  • Partial  vs. Full Acquisitions 
  • Staged acquisitions vs. full acquisitions
  • Ownership and control mechanisms in IJVS in Africa

Management of IJVs and Acquisitions in Africa

  • Knowledge transfer  in IJVS and Acquisitions
  • Expatriate managers vs. local management team
  • Local adaptation vs. absorption of foreign practices in IJVs and acquisitions in Africa

Organizational and Cultural Issues in Acquisitions and IJVs in Africa

  • The impact of cultural and language diversity in Africa on effective integration of cross-border acquisitions in Africa
  • The integration process in acquisitions in Africa
  • The role of culture in integration management in cross-border acquisitions in Africa
  • HRM practices in IJVS and acquisitions
  • Integration strategies in acquisitions

Performance of IJVs and Acquisitions in Africa

  • Lessons learned from unsuccessful acquisition deals  and IJV failure in Africa
  • Determinants of performance of IJVs and acquisitions in Africa
  • Survival and stability of IJVs in Africa.
  • Divestments of IJVs and acquisitions in Africa

Guidelines and Submission Information:

All manuscripts should be submitted to the special issue at manuscript central:

Authors must follow directions for submitting manuscripts to TIBR:

Papers submitted to the Special Issue will be subjected to doubleā€blind peer review in accordance with TIBR guidelines. Further questions about this special issue should be directed to any of the Guest Editors of this Special Issue.

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