Transnational business networks of African intermediaries in China: Practices of networking and the role of experiential knowledge

Angelo Müller, Rainer Wehrhahn


Chinese cities like Hong Kong, Guangzhou or Yiwu have become major ports of call for Sub-Saharan African traders active in the import-export trade of Chinese goods to Africa. This study highlights the role of African intermediaries in the city of Guangzhou, who work as negotiators within the Sino-African trade system. Between 2008 and 2011 33 case studies were conducted, using qualitative interviews and participatory observations. A qualitative network approach was used to investigate the intermediaries’ business practices as they build up multi-local economic relations. Different forms of knowledge embodied in the business practices were of special interest for this paper. Results
show the importance of multi-local forms of organisation across different nations and ethnic boundaries as well as the relevance of experiential knowledge for the success of these organisational forms. The findings may open up a research perspective on the organisation of transnational migrant business networks.

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