Sub-Saharan African Culture and Entrepreneurial Activities: A Ghanaian Perspective: An Abstract
Whereas several studies have investigated cultural values and entrepreneurship in terms of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions from a Western-world “lens,” we take a slightly different approach in that three of our six Ghanaian cultural values intersect with three of Hofstede’s dimensions (i.e., power distance, collectivism, and masculinity-femininity). Thus, six traditional Ghanaian cultural values (i.e., godliness, belief in paranormal activities, character or moral value, respect for the elderly, a sense of community, and the sanctity of man) are juxtaposed with entrepreneurial features allowing us to put forward potential relationship between culture and entrepreneurial behavior. Zoogah (2013) writes that, unlike American cultures, research in anthropology, sociology, and psychology shows that sub-Saharan African cultures are collectivistic, cooperative, and less autonomous. Ghanaian culture, for instance, is consistent with sub-Saharan African culture in that individuals think of not only themselves and their immediate family but also their extended family members (Zoogah 2013). Ghanaians, like sub-Saharan Africans (see Oppong 2003), depend on and provide support to one another, offering guidance and behavioral modeling for younger members. Our discussion implies and assumes these underlying commonalities and affinities running through sub-Saharan African and, specifically, Ghanaian culture.
In Ghana, whether the entrepreneur may be a small retailer, a small business owner, someone engaged in a street venture, or someone engaged in an informal or formal venture or engaged in family-owned or nonfamily-owned enterprises, the influence of culture still prevails. Godliness can have negative or positive influence depending on the circumstances. While belief in paranormal activities is likely to have a negative influence on entrepreneurial activity, doing the right thing and retaining moral character can have a positive influence, whereas doing the wrong things can have a negative influence on entrepreneurial activity. Respect for elderly and authority may restrict value expressiveness and hinder innovativeness. At the same time, the sense of community may help pool resources together for investment and may even get different entrepreneurs to cooperate but can drain resources for entrepreneurial activity. In addition, it may also hinder growth or expansion in order to lower family demand on the fruits of the enterprise. Hence, the sense of community is likely to have a positive or negative impact on entrepreneurial behavior. Finally, sanctity of man is likely to have a positive or negative influence on entrepreneurial activity at least from the Ghanaian perspective.
From these inferences and deductions, one concludes that Ghanaian culture, and by extension, African culture, largely, influences entrepreneurship. In light of the fact that Ghanaians live in multidimensional social arenas comprising of their traditional society and immediate community (i.e., extended families), entrepreneurs are compelled to redefine their position and their roles as they confront different situations by exploiting social ties and social settings.
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