School of Business publications portal
This portal is no longer updated. Aalto University School of Business Master's Theses are now in the Aaltodoc publication archive (Aalto University institutional repository)
School of Business | Department of Management Studies | MSc program in Management and International Business | 2015
Thesis number: 13957
Building capacity in Africa through expatriation: The case of Uganda insurers association
Author: Karhu, Heikki
Title: Building capacity in Africa through expatriation: The case of Uganda insurers association
Year: 2015  Language: eng
Department: Department of Management Studies
Academic subject: MSc program in Management and International Business
Index terms: kansainväliset yhtiöt; international companies; johtaminen; management; organisaatio; organization; ulkomailla työskentely; working abroad; kehitysmaat; developing countries; tietämyksenhallinta; knowledge management; kehitys; development; Afrikka; Africa
Pages: 109
Key terms: knowledge; tieto; expatriates; ulkomailla asuvat kansalaiset; developing countries; kehitysmaat; development; kehitys
The thesis is driven by the issue of deficient management capacity across Africa, which has many implications for the continent's development. The objective is to understand how expatriates may contribute to building capacity in African host organizations. The thesis is focused on examining the impacts and dynamics of knowledge transfer between an expatriate and the host organization in the framework of capacity development. It investigates the means through which an expatriate manager's knowledge transforms into capacity in the host organization, as well as the factors affecting the success of such contribution. Particular attention is paid to capacity development in the context of business associations.

The thesis is a qualitative single case study. It focuses on the case of Uganda Insurers Association (UIA) and, more specifically, the assignment of a Nordic executive to work as UIA's Chief Executive Officer, in the framework of African Management Services Company's (AMSCO) capacity building programme. The research data was obtained from semi-structured interviews with the relevant expatriate, two former members of UIA's governing body, and UIA's current CEO.

While hardly generalizable, the findings of the study provide interesting implications. An expatriate can efficiently build capacity in the host organization through various knowledge transfer mechanisms. The value of knowledge transfer, from the perspective of capacity development, depends partly on the extent to which the expatriate's knowledge is, in addition to being shared with other individuals, put into practice and translated into institutional assets improving capacity and competitiveness. In the case of UIA, a range of organization-specific and industry-wide impacts were identified. It is noteworthy that in the context of a business association knowledge was transferred and capacity developed in a catalytic manner, across organizational boundaries.

The success of knowledge transfer depends on several factors relating to the context of the assignment. The expatriate needs to be provided with sufficient autonomy and power and be trusted by the local colleagues to be able to use his or her knowledge to build capacity. The expatriate also needs social and disseminative capacities in building capacity. Further, it is important that the process of local succession is carefully prepared.
Master's theses are stored at Learning Centre in Otaniemi.