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As we prepared to wrap up this book and send all the chapters to our publisher, I had the chance to travel to Africa to test, with a group of local scholars and policy makers, the central argument: that underlying the diversity of forms of organizing set up to develop basic infrastructure and in this way promote socio-economic development lies a duality of building institutions and building technology – two desirable objectives with underlying design attributes that make them organisationally incompatible. The setting was the city of Livingstone, a stone’s throw from the majestic Victoria Falls – two places charged with references to a bygone Western colonial era which, for good and for ill, is part of Africa’s history.
Against the backdrop of an increasing demand for efficient, effective and sustainable new infrastructure developments in Africa, this study examines two rapid railway transportation projects to explore alternative ways of organising. The analysis focuses on the Gautrain railway system in South Africa and the Addis Ababa City Light Rail Transit (AA-LRT) system in Ethiopia. Adopting a comparative approach, we investigate how the two capital-intensive project organisations succeeded in overcoming system bottlenecks, and in dealing with complex interfaces with the institutional environment. Our focus is on the structures designed by the project promoter to acquire the necessary formal resources – finance, human capital, certification and land – and to manage the interdependency with the environment. We also investigate the extent to which the developments succeeded in creating broad value beyond the private value appropriated by the private firms involved in design, construction and operations. In agreement with organisation design literature, our analysis suggests the design of the governance structures is directly influenced by the political and sociocultural environment. Therefore, we argue, designing project organisations to deliver infrastructure in Africa is not a problem with a one-size-fits-all solution.
The upgrading of informal urban areas is a pressing challenge for meeting the UN’s goal to make cities a pathway to sustainable development. Complicating co-ordinated collective action is the diffusion of decision-making authority and control over critical resources in a context where there is a shortfall of institutions. Tackling this grand challenge thus requires designing inter-organisational contexts capable of navigating many institutional voids, including ill-defined property rights, weak regulation and inefficient markets. In this chapter, we draw on a case study of a development project that granted decision rights to the poor to upgrade Cairo’s ‘garbage cities’ to further our understanding of this organisational challenge. Our aim is to illuminate a form of organising that is neglected in management scholarship. Its main attribute is the way by which contractual governance is supplemented with a consensus-oriented collective-action structure. Our main contribution is to theorise a trade-off central to this form of organising: collective action, under the shadow of contractual governance, economises on the high transaction costs that would otherwise be incurred to resolve ill-defined property rights. However, enfranchising the poor brings into the organisational boundaries the costs of collective action and risk of a tragedy of the commons.
This book starts from the idea that much can be learned about the design of new forms of organising, theoretically and empirically, by examining a phenomenon central to the global order: Africa’s struggle to bridge a growing gap between supply and demand for basic infrastructure. A gap linked, amongst other factors, to the rapid growth of the continent’s population, projected to reach 40 per cent of the world’s population by 2100.1 Infrastructure is a vast class of capital-intensive technologies that input into a wide range of productive processes that generate positive externalities and social surplus.
This inductive study proposes a duality in the design of organisations set up to pursue socio-economic development. Dualities exist when organisations pursue objectives that are jointly desirable, but difficult to reconcile. We ground the research on a sample of inter-organisational contexts set up to pursue development by way of improving basic transport infrastructure in two of Africa’s fast-growing cities, Lagos (Nigeria) and Kampala (Uganda). Our findings reveal sharp variation in the way two desirable objectives are prioritised: to build capital public goods and build the local institutions. When the institutional intermediary that brokers resource exchanges is a ‘traditional’ development agency, e.g. the World Bank, the focus is on building institutions.
Africa's rapid population growth and urbanisation has made its socioeconomic development a global priority. But as China ramps up its assistance in bridging Africa's basic infrastructure gap to the detriment of institutions building, warnings of a debt trap have followed. Building upon an extensive body of evidence, the editors argue that developing institutions and infrastructure are two equally desirable but organisationally incompatible objectives. In conceptualising this duality by design, a new theoretical framework proposes better understanding of the differing approaches to development espoused by traditional agencies, such as the World Bank, and emergent Chinese agencies. This new framing moves the debate away from the fruitless search for a 'superior' form of organising, and instead suggests looking for complementarities in competing forms of organising for development. For students and researchers in international business, strategic and public management, and complex systems, as well as practitioners in international development and business in emergent markets.
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