Case 8: Language, Culture and Power in the Chinese-South African Telecommunications Sector

  • June Sun
Part of the Palgrave Studies in African Leadership book series (PSAL)


In recent years, Chinese presence in the South African telecommunications sector has grown. This chapter explores interpersonal interactions of people from both Chinese and South African organisations in the sector, and it examines perceptions of legitimacy of Chinese organisations in South Africa. The chapter is based on three months of primary research conducted in 2016 with individuals in 18 Chinese and 28 South African organisations, and it draws on Bourdieu’s theories of social and cultural capital. Chinese management structures and cultural differences create perceptions and realities of command and control, which limit the success of both employee interactions and technological learning, and reinforce the distance and foreignness of Chinese organisations. This chapter concludes with recommendations for both the telecommunications industry and the wider context of China-Africa relations.


Telecommunications Technology Language Power Bourdieu South Africa China 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • June Sun
    • 1
  1. 1.Vera SolutionsLondonUK

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