Out of (and into) Africa Conference


African Consumer Marketing, Firm Strategies and Society, Postconference debrief


Author: Haiyan Hu



Omar J. Khan (Morgan State University), Conference Chair and Firm Strategy Program Chair

Haiyan Hu (Morgan State University), Consumer Marketing Program Chair

Wheeler R. Winstead (Howard University), Society & Institutions Program Chair

Following the success of the Inaugural “Out of (and Into) Africa” conference held in 2018, the second edition was hosted online by Morgan State University on October 25-26, 2021.  The 2021 conference featured U.S. State Department Bureau of African Affairs, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Ervin Massinga, as keynote speaker. There were multiple full sessions of cutting-edge academic research presentations focusing on the African context and innovative international business approaches. Highlights included multiple panels on African consumer insights, SME development and Africapitalism, NGO vs. corporate investment, youth entrepreneurship, and the role of language.  The 2021 conference was sponsored by Morgan State University, Howard University and CIBER-CMCC.

This 2021 conference has turned out to be a resounding success, far exceeding the conference team’s initial projections! Counting each individual attendee only once, we had 236 attendees at the 2021 “Out of (and Into) Africa” conference.  Attendees, including presenters, joined from across the African continent, United States and several other parts of the world. A truly international event!

This 2021 edition of our biennial “Out of (and Into) Africa” conference series was held completely online (using the zoom platform), included multi-HBCU involvement and had three major tracks: consumer marketing, firm strategy and society & institutions. We received strong submissions leading to insightful selected papers, exciting panels, and forward-looking discussion at the conference.

The papers in the Consumer Marketing Track explored emerging consumer issues such as privacy concerns that are associated with online banking and factors (i.e. ethnic identity and impulsivity) that may lead to consumer online shopping addiction. Our researchers also examined the retail revolution brought by augmented reality technology and online shopping and how they influence customer experience. Finally, a study on African luxury showed that values associated with authenticity, materialism, and culture/ tradition from an Ubuntu context are valued by African luxury consumers, thus differentiating them from Western luxury consumers. A plenary presentation, delivered by the CEO and co-founder of Survey54, followed with a deep dive into enabling effective and accurate consumer insights from around Africa. The best paper presentation award in the Consumer Marketing Track was won by Evelyn Quartey and Israel Kpekpena (both from Ghana Institute for Management and Public Administration) for their paper, “Privacy concerns and customer engagement in online banking through the lens of protection motivation theory”.

The papers presented in our Firm Strategy Track examined knowledge creation for emerging market MNEs as evidenced in Africa. An extensive retrospective and future agenda was also presented regarding foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa. Other researchers in the track studied service marketing opportunities in Africa, while still others focused in on the Africa retail sector response to the ongoing pandemic impact. We also had an interesting paper on product design effect on female medical tourists. Indeed, within a short time span, the research presented in the Firm Strategy Track encompassed a variety of core issues salient to international business conduct around Africa. Two panels were also featured in this track: the first highlighting and discussing the role of SMEs in Africapitalism and the second delving into MNE vs. NGO investment in Africa. The best paper presentation award in the Firm Strategy Track was won by Joan Lilian Ogendo (from The Technical University of Kenya) for her paper, “Knowledge creation for performance of emerging economy MNEs”.

Our Society & Institutions Track examined a multitude of papers looking at societal influences on the progress of international business in Africa. Examination of the sharing culture and sharing economy was presented. Management’s role in malaria eradication was discussed, along with the effect of food safety signals on African consumers. Ease of doing business and poverty reduction in Nigeria were highlighted. Finally, to wrap up the track presentations, family influences on women’s entrepreneurial journeys were discussed. The papers evinced good discussion from attendees, especially in the role of public policy measures to encourage international business development around Africa. A panel delving deep into youth entrepreneurship in Africa, along with the impact of exogenous/endogenous shock followed, which yielded further insight on the significant role of Africa’s “great demographic dividend” in the years to come. A further panel into the role of language (with historical context) in establishing trust and “clout”, particularly in business negotiations, brought the conference proceedings to a close. The best paper presentation award in the Society & Institutions Track was won by Jane Chege, Arnout Fischer and Paul Ingenbleek (all from Wageningen University, Netherlands) for their paper, “Is food safety a satisfier or a dissatisfier for African consumers? Evidence on green leafy vegetables from Nairobi.”

This scholarly event highlights the growing significance of the Graves School of Business and Management, and underscores Morgan’s leadership in disseminating African international business scholarship. It also marked a significant step toward creating a sustained effort among HBCUs – with Morgan leadership – to connect with Africa in business-related research at both the micro and macro level.

The conference provided great opportunities for brainstorming and dialogue among researchers and marketing practitioners. Our attendees included academic faculty, doctoral students, policy makers, economic development experts, bureaucrats, think tank researchers, NGO experts, and senior corporate managers. We envision the platform to act as a dynamic repository devoted to international business research with an Africa-centric focus. We encourage scholars from Africa and worldwide to continue collaboration and remain connected with the “Out of (and Into) Africa” platform we are creating at Morgan. We encourage those interested in the development of the platform to email the Conference Chair (omar.khan@morgan.edu), so we can help maintain success of our biennial conference series and progress.