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The term “entrepreneurship” spontaneously evokes ideas of competition, free market, profit, rational calculation and efficient organisation which are generally associated with economics and the discipline of management. In Africa, however, such a conceptual association can be readily misleading.

In the African mentality, the economic sector is not divorced from the affairs of daily life, in particular social bonds. Likewise, entrepreneurship cannot escape its cultural context. Both the zaouzl sector and the entrepreneurial spirit are fundamentally embedded, according to the terminology of Karl Polanyi, reassessed by Serge Latouche and Hassan Zaoual, in the ethico-religious values, social behaviour and customs, in short, in the local culture.

Hence one can assert that the proverbial saying of “not mixing business with feelings” is clearly not of African origin P.

To the contrary, in African cultures, there is hardly any distinction drawn between hassan organisation of production on one hand, and social, lineage, religions and family-based organisations, on the other.

The West elevated the economic sector into an autonomous sphere beginning in the eighteenth century. Africa, however, approaches neither money nor profit, nor market nor management in a strict mechanical fashion, which would be operating according to objective calculation and obeying the alleged universal rationality of homo-economicus.

One can be “reasonable without being rational” H. The “purely” economic aims are mixed up inside other motivations, particularly that of the group.

Economic activity is “rational” for neoclassical economists. It is “relational” for the Africans. Indeed, what differentiates the economic factor in Africa from conventional Western conceptualization is that it is not considered an objective element.

In fact, it is a subjective reality. Along with the economy, management is part of what the great anthropologist Marcel Mauss called “a global social phenomenon. All economic activities and organizations rest on a symbolic site H. Zaoual from which they gain sense and dynamism. The enterprise cannot be reduced to a technical system.

Instead, it is a community organized around a certain meaning. The actor in such a community cannot be overlooked. Entrepreneurship and “Informal Sector”.: The term entrepreneurship engenders confusion where an objective reality is evoked as culturally neutral, when the entire issue is fundamentally cultural. The Japanese phenomenon, for its part, has attracted considerable attention from management specialists concerning this R.

Admittedly, the recognition of culture in management requires a doubled intellectual effort: A second confusion to be avoided is the introduction of the term “informal” sector as opposed to the supposedly formal sector of African economies. The term “sector” implies the presence of zoual specific entity, stable and homogenous, that is not found as such in reality. The qualifications of “informal” and “non-structural” apply to activities and enterprises displaying elements of formalization and structure, organization and hierarchy.

The ideal reference remains the “normal sector”, that is modern commercial enterprises, both public and private, with their representations and dominant paradigms: Another reason for which the term “informal sector” is inadequate is that there is no such thing as an informal sector separated from the formal sector.

Behaviours and practices, which generally correspond to the “Informal sector”, are equally present in the so-called formal sector: All kinds of cultural mixtures between Western and African culture, between modernity and tradition are found in the “formal” as much as in the “informal” sector. The distinction hassah on this terminology is therefore of little use. The key term in Africa today is hybridity! It is inescapable if one wants to understand and assist the economy as a whole and business enterprises in particular.


Cultural hybridization in Africa. On the one hand, the socio-cultural inherited from tradition yet transformed by contemporary pressures and, on the other, economic, financial and technical influences brought about zaouall the penetration of market forces. The end product is a hybrid economy whose contemporary logic is an articulation of the capitalise mode with the non-capitalist, a blend of modernity with traditional means of operations H.

The hybridization not only allows for the survival and occasional progress of millions of Africans, but also corrupts the “formal” character of official life, of “the great society” S.

Effectively, one observes the formalisation of the formal. It is clear that in Africa the socio-cultural situation has often been neglected by hssan experts. Only the techniques, the financial and legal apparatus valued by Western models of management have been recognized and tought.

Hassan Hassan – Wikipedia

According to Mamadou Dia, a senior civil servant at the World Bank, project-models to encourage and support businesses in Africa are fraught with Eurocentrism. In large part, their failure stems from a linear evolutionist and mechanistic views of history and development which are limited to technological approaches. Belief in Taylorism’s “one best way” has encouraged mimicry.

In Japan, on the contrary, managers, some educated in the West, have openly reconciled foreign influences and the Japanese principles of verticality hierarchyof affective dependence, of fused membership inherited from their ancestors E.

Business managers in Africa have, conversely, seldom explored a reconciliation of local cultural specificities with models imported from abroad id. Does this informality constitute an alternative to the formal sector economy, and thus, a viable model worthy of promotion? Opinions diverge on these points.

The Economy and the Symbolic Sites of Africa – Hassan Zaoual – Google Books

For some, who warn against idealizing poverty, Africa will not be able to over come the challenge of effective development without recourse to universal values.

There exist some universal constraints – notably, those engendered in Africa by the imbalance between haswan and the consumption process and demography G. It is claimed that through their underdevelopment, western domination has imposed on African countries the need to radically change and get rid of Africa’s tradition.

Africa is compelled to rationalise in a Weberian sense the economic activities and commercial enterprises, to embrace efficiency, calculability, the objective norms.

Hassan Zaoual

Others point to the fact that the formal business sector, created and administered along a Western mode, becomes generally inefficient, and lacks authenticity.

The need for urgent change can- not be fully met by the imposition of alien and external models.

The failure during forty years of the politics of development has taught prudence with regard to the universalism of economic science and sociology and of development, which often has camouflaged crude Eurocentrism. In zaoyal economic sector as in the entrepreneurial sphere, one cannot lose sight of the cultural substratum R. Formal enterprises often rest like a strange body, a western packet dropped in another “symbolic site”.

Such package is zaouak rejected either by inertia and non-participation, either by perversion of its meaning H. The formal business sector, extroverted by neo-colonial economic logic, is too “rational” and “cold”. Failing to attract hasean and adhesion, it becomes a place of corruption and spoils patronage.

One author calls this the “immoral culture of the nouveaux riches” where “inequality, oppression, clan interests and the perversion of Hhassan cultural values” run rampant E. The “informal” sphere can therefore appear as the carrier of hope G. The economy of the poor is, for its defenders, a useful corrective of Western economy said formal since it meets the needs which this economy has not been able to fill.

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This economy is analyzed as being competitive and dynamic in terms of quality, prices, as much as on the employment level I. The popular economy is considered by some as the base of a new culture. Some authors observe in between a lost tradition and an inaccessible modernity, the emergence zaouual an authentic post-modern culture wherein the African would be ingenious without being an engineer, industrious without being an industrialise, or zqoual without being an entrepreneur.


The “informal sector” is not the kind of fix-it-yourself sector which constantly awaits legitimation or which finds itself in an indefinite period of transition F. We are perhaps facing a new but lasting logic of production. The recognition of this phenomenon should lead researchers and decision makers to give to the actors of the informal sector a positive status and full legitimacy S.

The informal institutions are capable zwoual functioning and, therefore, offer some hope M. Certainly, one should not, however, advance a single alternative, but instead should consider a plurality of alternatives. The importance is the multi-faceted onward progression. This society of shipwrecked which is developing at the margins of the world economy and of the jassan and its political system is, in large measure, a society against the state, as it is one in opposition to the global economy” idem since “the absolute logic of the market leads to despair” P.

The “poor” are actors. Hassan reference to the poor as actors underpins a zaouxl of analyses and, in particular, characterizes the interesting observations offered by Luis Razeto on the popular economy of Chile.

Contrary to what is the case in industrial capitalist enterprises, the organizing subject is not necessarily he who brings capital, for instance, a manager who hires workers. Instead, these popular enterprises are organized by the subject who bring the labor factor, a boss who hires workers from the local community or a family or neo-lineage. The cooperation plays a central role.

Indeed, social cohesion and solidarity seem to be the key factor in the stability and the economic efficiency of this type of business enterprise, the poor being the majority of participants. The poor in the popular economy sector described by Razeto are no longer the potential beneficiaries of industrial or commercial capitalism promoted by capital or by the state, but appear as the genuine protagonists.

They are not an object to be modernized. For Luis Razeto, one should not take only capital and labor into account as economic factors. There also exist a “C factor” for cooperation, community, collaboration, a group of persons, a community.

Taking a collective initiative, working together constitutes an economic factor by itself. Factor “C” generates productivity and enjoys a self-generating existence and logic. In the classical enterprise the aim is to accumulate capital.

In this respect, technological and human capital serve as means toward this end. In an enterprise organized according to factor “C”, it is necessary not only to develop factor “C” by generating income, but it is also essential to widen and intensify social relations. These economic organisations respond to a multiplicity of objectives which are at the same time economic, social and cultural. They appear to be the embryo of a sector different from the private or public statist sector, namely, a sector of labor and solidarity.

This sector rooted in a social fabric which itself is influenced by popular culture, constitutes an epistemological challenge to economic science and business management. It is the contribution of the voiceless to the search of another social formation society. This view point from Latin America may be useful to understand Africa’s popular economy. Towards self-transformation of Society? The development of this economy of the “people below” may lead to social, cultural and political change in Africa.

Popular economy, some observers claim, develops a culture of autonomy and independent labor. It can even lead to a spirit of initiative and responsibility, train conscious and enterprising people, and constitute a catalyst of cultural revolution in the behaviour and mentalities facilitating the self-transformation of society Panhuys. Its communitarian organization renders pride and sense to the African continent where cultural disarray and social commotion are rife.