Myths about Employment in Africa Should be Dismissed – IEMS’ Barry Sautman Op-Ed Featured in the Global Times Newspaper

Published on: 2015-06-28

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On the topic of whether Chinese enterprises in Africa contribute to employment by localizing their workforces, IEMS’ Barry Sautman spoke to the Global Times Newspaper on the widespread, persistent Western argument that Chinese enterprises in Africa “bring their own” and do not hire locals.

As Prof. Sautman commented in the article:

Localization of workforces at Chinese enterprises is already well-developed and, generally, the longer Chinese firms are in Africa, the more they localize. Africans elites may not regard that as sufficient however. Their focus on management positions is a source of discontent, but media-created stereotypes play a great role.

One stereotype is of few locals at Chinese firms, but many at other foreign companies in Africa. Western firms have had a much longer tenure in Africa than their Chinese counterparts, enabling them to grasp the low-hanging fruit of African resources and markets, generate greater profits, and pay higher salaries to attract Africa’s talent. Our cross-national data nevertheless indicates that because there are now Chinese firms with some years on the continent, Western firms do not generally have higher localization rates.

Another stereotype is of Chinese firms unwilling to localize because they ethnocentrically seek to isolate Chinese from Africans or because the Chinese government sees Africa as a dumping ground for surplus labor. Chinese with small and medium-sized enterprises in Africa however are more likely than Western expats to live among Africans and learn local languages.

Read the full article here: Global Times

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