Handbook of the International Political Economy of the Corporation
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Handbook of the International Political Economy of the Corporation

Edited by Andreas Nölke and Christian May

Over the past few decades, corporations have been neglected in studies of international political economy (IPE). Seeking to demystify them, what they are, how they behave and their goals and constraints, this Handbook introduces the corporation as a unit of analysis for students of IPE. Providing critical discussion of their global and domestic power, and highlighting the ways in which corporations interact with each other and with their socio-political environment, this Handbook presents a thorough and up-to-date overview of the main debates around the role of corporations in the global political economy.
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Chapter 21: The African corporation, ‘Africapitalism’ and regional integration in Africa

Okechukwu C. Iheduru


The ‘varieties of capitalism’ literature ignores Africa; suggesting that ‘the African multinational corporation’ exists might therefore sound heretical. Yet, behind the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative stand indigenous multinational business enterprises exporting capital and making long-term investments in Africa and beyond. This chapter maps the rise of the African multinational corporation (MNC) and explores its challenge to the hegemonic scholarship on the international political economy of the corporation. It discusses their size, magnitude and fields of accumulation, and maps the ecology from which these firms emerged. It finds that the emergent state_African MNC relationship is characterized by ‘developmental neopatrimonialism’, that is, resulting in economic growth, employment creation, linkages with other sectors of the economy, and increases in national tax base. In contrast to emerging MNCs from China, India and Brazil, they are not backed by any state ideology or vision of a world order, even though their emergence is linked to national and regional economic and political reforms. Their negligible state backing is limited to economic rents that enable MNCs to substitute for the state in providing for the well-being of citizens and contributing to the fiscus. Their pan-African vision and agenda (‘Africapitalism’) are, instead, articulated by leading entrepreneurs motivated by a sense of place and unique African heritage to take the lead in the continent’s development through ‘impact investment’ to create social wealth. The African experience suggests that, in addition to emerging MNCs’ similarities, greater attention needs to be paid to notions of ‘place’ and ‘heritage’ as critical factors shaping both cross-border regionalization and the expansion of emerging MNCs in the twenty-first century.

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