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Management consultants, developers and politics in Africa 
Corentin Cohen (University of Oxford)
Portia Roelofs (KCL)
Brendan Whitty (University of St Andrews)
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Politics and International Relations (x) Futures (y)
Philosophikum, S84
Saturday 3 June, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

Management consultancies are not prominent in analyses of politics and development. This panel examines how major consultancies like the Big Four (Deloitte, PwC, EY, KPMG) and middle sized ones shape legitimate visions of Africa’s future, governance and capital flows.

Long Abstract:

Management consultancies have not historically featured in analyses of politics and development. Yet the Big Four (Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG) and other major and middle-sized consulting firms have proven to be at the centre of development projects and have popularised important afro-capitalist discourses regarding Africa’s economic renaissance. On the one hand, it is clear that consultancies play a role in shaping new forms of governance, capital flows and the perception of national projects of development. On the other, the exact extent and nature of this influence is hard to ascertain in the face of commercial confidentiality and hyperbolic self-presentation by the firms themselves. This panel assesses the state of knowledges regarding management consultants with an attention to consultants’ role in defining legitimate visions of Africa’s future. It aims at connecting research in different disciplines (political science and IR, critical management studies, sociology, economy, development studies but also anthropology and history) and methods. We welcome papers which look at localized cases studies, themes or sectoral analyses regarding the role of both national and global consultancies. Papers may touch on practices of management consultants as a professional community; their relationships with states and international organisations; management consultants’ role in producing economic and political knowledges; how they enhance the reputation and legitimacy of their public and private clients; or any other relevant approach. Although the discussion will be held in the first instance in English, we warmly welcome papers in French and Portuguese.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Saturday 3 June, 2023, -