Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Drivers of change or cut-throat competitors? Challenging Cultures of Innovation of Chinese and Nigerian migrant entrepreneurs in West Africa

Kohnert, Dirk (2010): Drivers of change or cut-throat competitors? Challenging Cultures of Innovation of Chinese and Nigerian migrant entrepreneurs in West Africa.

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Abstract

The remarkable influx of Chinese migrant entrepreneurs in different West African countries in recent years has been met with growing resistance by established local entrepreneurs. Whether the former have a competitive edge over the latter because of distinctive socio-cultural traits, or whether the Chinese supposed effectiveness is just a characteristic feature of any trading Diaspora, is open to question. This exploratory study of Chinese and Nigerian entrepreneurial migrants in Ghana and Benin tries to answer this question. Apparently, the cultural motive powers of migrant drivers of change are not restricted to inherited value systems or religions like a protestant ethic or Confucianism, but they are permanently adapted and invented anew by transnational networks of migration in a globalized world. There is no evidence for a supposed superiority of Chinese versus African innovative cultures of entrepreneurial migrants. Rather there exists an enhanced innovative capacity of a trading Diaspora in general vis-à-vis local entrepreneurs, regardless of the background national culture in which it is embedded. In addition, the rivalry of Chinese and Nigerian migrant entrepreneurs in African markets does not necessarily lead to the often suspected cut-throat competition under the impact of globalization. Often both groups act rather complementary. This contributes under certain conditions even to poverty alleviation in the host country.

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