Chinese firms in Uganda: The important role of the mediator.

Mbalyohere, Charles (2020). Chinese firms in Uganda: The important role of the mediator. In: Jackson, Terence; Louw, Lynette and Boojihawon, Dev K. (Roshan) eds. Chinese Organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa: New Dynamics, New Synergies. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 234–251.



Following years of economic decline precipitated by civil war, Uganda is making rapid economic recovery, and much of this has been spurred by Chinese FDI activities. Whereas the entry of Chinese companies onto big infrastructure and extractive industrial projects is what has dominated public attention, there has also been substantial and much longer activity in lower scale, but important sectors like agriculture and agro-processing. We however know little about the nature of engagement of these companies and its corresponding impact on employment and local communities. Drawing from in-depth interviews of managers and employees working for Chinese companies, this chapter explores the nature, attributes and issues underpinning their work and relationships. The evidence suggests a strong dependence on the nurturing of trust-based relationships with lead Ugandan managers. These managers act as ‘Mediator(s)’ between Chinese management, Ugandan employees, regulators, hosting communities, clients and other key stakeholders, and subsequently become deeply involved in bridging disparities between Chinese managerial behaviour and Ugandan employee perceptions.

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