"Informal Business Practices" in Emerging Markets


Guest Editor Affiliation: Maastrict School of Management 

IBP may be defined as “those practices, in contravention of formal rules, laws and regulations and generally accepted principles of business ethics, that give the business owners/managers maximum leeway to achieve a competitive advantage, lower costs and increased profitability, as they perceive it”. We are trying not to be judgemental with possible negatives (such as corruption; nepotism; bribery; tax-avoiding; old-boy networks; lack of transparency) although such issues may be a key part of the cases. We are also interested in positive effects of IBP on an organization’s performance and survival. Cases about decisions related to the challenges faced by business owners/managers from more developed countries trying to do business in emerging markets are also encouraged; although this special issue will not focus exclusively on private business but can include dilemmas experienced by NGOs and public sector decision-makers. The special issue will be published in 2023, for use by instructors globally.

Submission Deadline: September 1st, 2022

Indicators of IBP compared with formal aspects of a business:

Part of the Business Formal Informal
Governance/ Leadership Board of Directors, Professional management, formal mandates, accountability and transparency Behind the scenes decision making, financiers/investors power, old boys' network, political influences, patronage
Financial management/salary administration/tax compliance Bank finance, professional administration in place, formal procedures and systems Informal finance, shadow bookkeeping, fraud
Production/working conditions/safety/quality control Work floor organization, standard procedures and safety measures in place, quality assurance, competence, oversight Violation of labour laws, safety and environmental regulations
Procurement Formal procurement procedures in place Non-transparent process, single sourcing, price inflation, bribes, insider trading
HR management Official recruitment processes, performance management systems Nepotism, favouritism, 'impression management', no social security coverage, discrimination
Marketing Marketing strategies, media campaigns Word of mouth, personal network
Transport/Logistics Regulatory compliance, warehouses, well managed and maintained transport fleet Long working hours for drivers, Overloading, lack of maintenance of transport fleet, personal use

Source: Dellevoet and Jones (2021)

Submission Guidelines

In preparing cases, authors are asked to follow the standard EMCS Author Guidelines available from the dropdown menu at https://www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/journal/emcs. A submitted Case document should include primary data gathered from interviews with the protagonist, or well-sources secondary data supporting the protagonist’s voice, be written in the past tense, be focused on a compelling management decision-making dilemma facing the protagonist, and have approximately eight single-spaced pages of narrative. The accompanying Teaching Note document should include well-crafted learning objectives, related assignment questions and comprehensive model answers, and a comprehensive 90-minute teaching plan. Templates, guides, and other author resources are available via the EMCS main webpage above.
To submit your case, first create an author account at https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/eemcs, then follow the on-screen guidance. Please select the “Informal Business Practices” in Emerging Markets option when prompted to choose from issue options. If you have any questions about the submission process, please contact the EMCS Publisher, James Hobbs at [email protected] 

All cases will be double-blind peer-reviewed before acceptance.

Submission Deadline: September 1st, 2022

Authors are welcome to contact the Guest Editors with any queries or early case ideas.

Editor-in-Chief: Dr. Michael Goldman, Associate Professor in the Sport Management Program at the University of San Francisco, & Adjunct Faculty at the Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria ([email protected]).

About Emerging Markets Case Studies

Emerald Publishing’s Emerging Markets Case Studies (ISSN: 2045-0621) is a Scopus-ranked online collection of peer-reviewed case studies focusing on business decision making and management development throughout key global emerging markets. Cases are written by case writers working in or closely with developing economies, offering local perspectives with global appeal. In 2018, EMCS cases were downloaded over 75,000 times by students and faculty around the world, and has published content from 71 countries. 
Authors will be eligible for a payment of £100 upon publication of their case study.


Benjamin, Nancy, Ahmadou Aly Mbaye, The Informal Sector in Francophone Africa 2018, World Bank, Washington DC

Dellevoet, A. & Jones. S. (2021). Informal Business Practices: Exception or the Norm? [Manuscript submitted for conference publication]. International Projects and Development Conference, Maastricht School of Management, 1 December 2021.

La Porta, Rafael and Andrei Schleifer, 2008, “The Unofficial Economy and Economic Development”, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2: pp. 275-364.