Report on the Winter School in Manchester (UK)

Report by Professor Aminu Mamman

Winter School at the University of Manchester

9th to 13th December 2019

Overview

ManaGlobal’s main aim is to study and understand the hybridization of business and management practices in African and Arab countries, and to develop a theoretical framework that may help future business leaders and managers to think globally and act locally. To achieve this aim, various activities have been outlined in line with RISE project and protocol. Amongst the activities is the design and delivery of Winter and Summer Schools that brings members of the Project together to exchange knowledge amongst academics and practitioners from the global North and the global South. It is in line with this objective that the first ManaGlobal Winter School was designed and delivered at the University of Manchester from 9th to 13th December 2019. The workshop was jointly organized by the University of Manchester and the University of Abertay Dundee. Invited speakers and participants came from Ghana, Cameroun, Senegal, Morocco, France, Germany, and the UK. A total of twenty-one (21) project members and four (4) PhD students participated in the Winter School.  This document reports the design, delivery, and outcomes of the Winter School at the University of Manchester.

Winter School aim and objectives

The Winter School is part of the Work Package 1 as one of the Managlobal Project deliverables. The Work Package 1 is concerned with the Review of literature and research capacity building. Therefore, the theme of the Winter School is “The state of the art of glocal management and governance in Africa and the Arab world and business research methods”.  In line with the theme, the Winter School at Manchester focused on exchanging knowledge and building intellectual capacity on the current economic development, policy environment and socio-cultural literature as the background to understanding the contexts of business and management practice in the African and Arab countries. Related to this broad aim is the understanding of the challenges in doing social science research on the African continent.

The Design of the Winter School

In order to achieve the objectives of the Winter School, the programme was designed in two components. The first component was a workshop – which focused entirely on how to do research in Africa and the challenges researchers may face when undertaking the research. The topics under this component were as follows: Challenges of doing research in Africa and Arab countries; Experiences of doing research in Africa and Arab countries; Methods and the Tools available for doing research in Africa and Arab Countries; Experiences of applying research methods in Africa and Arab countries; Lessons learnt and plans for future research in Africa and Arab countries.

            The second component of the Winter School focused on the literature on the context of management and business practice in Africa. This component of the Winter School was delivered as a conference/seminar where speakers presented papers on the socio-economic, cultural and policy environment of business and management practice in Africa. Both components were presented in English and French. The themes of the second component were as follows: The socio-economic, legal and political contexts of doing business and managing organizations in Africa and Arab Countries; Theories of business and management and their applications in different socio-cultural contexts.

Papers presented in the second component included the following: The Sociological and Anthropological Study of Globalization and Localization; Analyse des modèles de gestion des entreprises multinationales au Sénégal. Cas de l’Agence pour la Sécurité de la Navigation Aérienne en Afrique et à Madagascar (ASECNA) à Dakar; State-business relations for entrepreneurship take off in Africa: Insights through institutional lens; Private Equity Investments in Africa; Gouvernance des entreprises au Sénégal; Is Management a Universal Phenomenon? Theories of convergence and divergence revisited; Gouvernance des entreprises au Cameroun; Ubuntu as an alternative economic Philosophy for Africa’s Economy and business practice?; Development and organizational change; Management in South Africa, Ghana and Senegal; Gouvernance des entreprises au Maroc.

There was a third element of the Winter School. This involved a presentation by the ManaGlobal administrative project manager via Skype. This presentation focused on how the Project is managed and the challenges. 

Another element of the Winter School was a meeting by the work package leaders to discuss issues related to communication, secondments, hosting secondees, inadequate funding of secondees by the Project and how to address the challenges. A frank discussion also took place regarding the funding of the winter school and the lessons to be learnt to make sure future workshops and schools do not surfer the same fate.

The Delivery of the Winter School

The Winter School was overall a successful event. Sizeable number invited to attend did make it to the occasion. After long deliberations and considerations about budget constraints, the venue for the workshop was settled on the campus of University of Manchester. Rooms were booked in advance. Even when demand for extra rooms came at short notice, the administrative staff was able to find extra rooms for the additional parallel sessions. Hotels were booked not far away from the venue of the workshop. Coffee and sandwiches were provided during the break and lunch hours.

A total of five (5) workshop activities were conducted in two (2) days from Monday to Tuesday. Despite the language challenges, the activities were delivered successfully. To address the language challenges, bilingual chairs or moderators were assigned to every plenary and parallel session. Their tasks were to summarize the discussion and to translate questions and answers from each group into English or French.

There were three (3) themes in the conference/seminar component of the Winter School. These were delivered on Wednesday and Thursday. The themes were: (1) The socio-economic, legal and political contexts of doing business and managing organizations in Africa and Arab Countries; (2) Theories of business and management and their applications in different socio-cultural contexts, (3) Studies of development, economic growth and organizational change with a focus on Africa and Arab countries.

The themes were presented as a plenary and parallel sessions. Similar to the workshop, there were bilingual speakers to summarize and to translate questions and answers into French and English.

            Overall, participants were well engaged in the discussions and were eager and able to exchange knowledge of the subject matter under discussion.

The final day (Friday) was dedicated to meeting by the work package leaders. They took time to take stock of the progress made and discuss the challenges in going forward. Again, the meeting was a complete success. The meeting concluded by outlining and delegating the deliverables by each work package leader and the timeline for delivery.

The outcomes of the Winter School

There were many positive outcomes from the Winter School. The first is the delivery of what the Project partners committed to delivering as stated in the proposal submitted to the European Union. This is important to demonstrate partners’ commitment to the Project.

The second outcome is the intellectual gains accrued from the workshop and conference where participants were able to acquire knowledge, skills, tools, and insights on how to conduct research in Africa and how to address the challenges that they might encounter.

The third outcome is the network developed amongst participants who are part of the Project and those who are not part of the Project. This establishment of contacts and network is beneficial for future academic pursuits such as publications and exchange of ideas which can lead to future initiatives.

The fourth benefit is the capacity built from the knowledge and skills acquired which will undoubtedly enable better research, teaching and consulting in Africa.

The fifth outcome is the decision taken to publish a special issue of a journal using some of the papers presented at the Winter School. Journal of African Management and Employee Relations are two potential journals outlets for the papers presented at the conference component of the Winter School. The potential benefits of publication cannot be quantified because academics from the Global South, especially from Africa, find it hard to publish their work in well-established journals in the Management discipline.

Finally, the Winter School has provided inspiration especially for up – and – coming academics to be keener in publishing their work in the Global North. For academics in the Global North, they have also realized the benefits of the richness of African environment as a means of generating research ideas.


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