He is also the Centre Director for the Centre for Applied Research and Innovation in Supply Chain-Africa (CARISCA).

His extensive research has been pivotal in redefining knowledge about Africa’s international business landscape.

Prof. Boso’s interest in cross-border business bloomed under the care of his paternal grandfather and grandmother at Penyi, a village near the Ghana-Togo border.

Nathaniel, while attending St. Anthony Primary school at Penyi decided to participate in the vibrant trading activities at the border. He was into the sale of yam and currency exchange. Not only was he earning, he enjoyed himself, as well.

“I became interested in what they were doing so I decided to get involved and but principally there were commodity traders who were trading in commodities like yam, cassava, corn and fish. Currency traders who were exchanging Cedis with CFA franc were also active at the border town. So I decided to join the trade. So I was also, at that young age, buying commodities, particularly yam, from yam plantations and taking them across the Ghana-Togo border to sell. But then at that time it was all for fun.

“There was that sense that you could make money at a young age because the CFA franc is valued higher than the Cedi. So most traders preferred to have the CFA franc on them as opposed to the Cedi. So I was selling my yam across the border in CFA franc, then returned with the CFA franc to Ghana. And when I exchanged, I got more money,” he recalled.

Nathaniel returned to Cape Coast in 1990 for his Junior High School Education at AME Zion Junior High School before proceeding to St. Augustine’s College, also in Cape Coast, for his Senior High School Education in 1992, graduating in 1994. 

It was this love for marketing which led him to apply to the University of Ghana to study BA Business Administration, specializing in marketing.

After his masters, he left for the UK to pursue a PhD in International Marketing and Entrepreneurship, which he completed in 2011 at Loughborough University.

Nathaniel was subsequently appointed as a lecturer in marketing at the University of Leeds.

“I was there for seven years, rising from a lecturer in 2011 to senior lecturer in 2013, and associate professor in 2015,” he said.

“Within international industrial marketing research field, we focus on international (or even global) supply chain activities, which is the distribution aspect of international marketing and so I was interested in how entrepreneurs operate in international markets in terms of how they distribute their goods and services across national bodies,” he said.

This desire pushed him to explore the concept in his master’s thesis looking at the inter-firm relationship strategies of a major car manufacturer and exporter in Sweden.

Prof. Boso carried that research interest into his PhD where he studied export entrepreneurial orientation and how it is connected to export performance.

“So how do exporters behave in an entrepreneurial way? I wanted to understand the entrepreneurial mindset of entrepreneurs involved in exporting operations. How do they think when they are trying to internationalize their operation? So that research has expanded from a focus one Swedish company to a focus on UK exporters. I was studying the behavior of companies in those two countries because first, both my master’s and PhD studies were being funded by the governments of those countries; and secondly, international business research had not taken root in Africa, and so it was hard to persuade anyone to accept the notion that African businesses were major participants in international business and trade for which reason they should be the focus on an empirical study,” he said.

Back to Africa

He returned to the Ghana-Togo border to look at how pirated and counterfeited goods were transacted across the border, a work which ended in a publication in the Journal of World Business, which is one of the highest ranked journals in the international business discipline.

The results of that study showed that billions of dollars of counterfeit goods are traded across national borders in Africa.

“I saw how small business operators and traders would buy counterfeit products in Togo because of the Togo free ports and import them to Ghana through the many informal land border entry points rather than the formal customs controlled border checkpoints and sea ports.  I started studying those small business operators and traders, and that then grounded my interest in international business activities of African small and medium size enterprises,” he explained.

Prof. Boso has also been interested in the use of technology to drive goods and services. In a 2023 study in Kenya, Prof. Boso examined how consumer attitude towards technology, using the Kenyan banking sector as an empirical setting.

He thinks that society’s acceptance of technology’s role in driving efficiency and even effectiveness of distribution of goods and services is crucial in creating good value for money for both producers and consumers.

“Technology can help consumers to have access to information about multiple sources of goods and services and be able to make a choice. And they are even able to compare prices on the basis of information delivered by technology.

“But where that is not there, then I believe costs of goods and services go up. And that is what we call information asymmetry, right? Where information is not evenly distributed, businesses can rely on that to hike up prices.

He continued, “In that study in Kenya, you discovered that Kenyan economy is very much technology driven. In Kenya, business transactions are largely done electronically, hardly would you see cash. No matter how small the value of a transaction is, you can pay with M-pesa or by using the POS, even at local markets.”

Prof. Boso is, however, worried that the situation in Ghana is different, and hampering economic transformation.

“If you go to a formal market setting in Ghana, like a supermarket, a restaurant, a shop, and you want to make a transaction using your debit card or credit card, they will tell you no. You must pay cash. So that means that the society here in Ghana doesn’t believe in technology yet. And because they don’t believe in technology, they do not practice it.

“The essential takeaway from that study is that when technology is fully adopted, it lowers costs of goods and services because information becomes increasingly available, enabling consumers to make informed decisions and choices,” he said. Prof. Boso is also extending the notion of technology and its place in ensuring greater inclusiveness and broad base prosperity at the bottom of the economic pyramid (BOP).

He contends that, “there is a consensus that understanding the characteristics and challenges of local and foreign businesses serving at the BOP market in a largely informal African economies is crucial for designing effective strategies that can address the unique needs and constraints of consumers in this market. Scholars have explored such constraints as poor information flow, inadequate transportation, limited access to financial services, weak governance systems, and regulatory barriers. For example, the lack of access to education and information in rural areas gives rise to information asymmetries, and causes imbalanced bargaining power between buyers and sellers even in an online marketplace. One of the research initiatives I am leading now is to, therefore, examine how digital solutions pioneered by foreign Western and emerging market businesses as well as local African businesses and governments are enabling entrepreneurs in Africa to leapfrog major sustainable innovations to solve some of the continent’s most challenging problems.”

Beyond these, Prof. Boso has been interested in entrepreneurial mindset of SME owners in Africa. In one study, he compared the entrepreneurial behavior, innovativeness of businesses in Ghana and the UK. In this study, he concluded that Ghanaian businesses do not innovate compared to UK businesses. But why is it the case?

Prof. Boso suggests that, “the Ghanaian society does not encourage failure. And it has a lot to do with our culture. The educational system in Ghana has set us to believe that if fail, you are a loser. The society will frown upon you. We all know how much our parents will insult us if we fail in school exams. We are aware about how our teachers and peers would laugh at us when we fail an exam. Yet, we know that 65% new businesses fail during the first 10 years, and only 25% make it to 15 years or more. We also know that, on average 50 to 90% of new products fail. So innovation is a function of the propensity to take a risk and fail and learn from the failure to do something better.”

So, in one of his papers published in the Journal of Business Research, he again posed the question: “Do entrepreneurs always benefit from business failure experience?”

“If you have a culture that doesn’t accept failure, I don’t expect you to take a risk. Because if you take a risk, the likelihood of failure is very high. And you know at the back of your mind that if you fail you will be stigmatized, so why try it?” he added.

A key takeaway from his study is that, “in extremely turbulent business environment where failure is not welcomed, business success is a function of the extent to which business leaders learn to channel their experiences with failure into a positive new business venture creation opportunity”. He advised that Ghanaian and African businesses should not let failure experience hold them down; rather they should learn from the experience.

Taking responsibility

The idea of taking responsibility for business failure, therefore, became the focus of another study Prof. Boso and one of his students are working on.

In their survey of entrepreneurs with failure experience in multiple industries in Ghana, they asked: “What do you think was the main reason for your business failure?”

They find that entrepreneurs in Ghana are likely to “blame somebody else for their failure, and not themselves. Some would argue that their failure is as a result of witchcraft and the work of the devil. The devil is always the culprit. How the devil manifests, I don’t know, but I’m sure this tendency to blame the devil has a lot to do with the high degree of religiosity of the Ghanaian society. Of course some blamed the workers they work with, some of them would say Ghanaian workers thieves and so forth,” Prof. Boso quoted some of the responses.

Interestingly, when they asked the successful business owners of reason behind their success, they still refuse to take responsibility for their success. A typical response was: “It’s God oh!”

“Here, we are not arguing that God and spirituality or religion has no place in business; but the point is, we understand from a scientific point of view that how business success comes about is a function of the decisions of the business and its leaders. The issue of spirituality and blessing of God in African businesses is itself the focus of research that a colleague of mine in South Africa is leading, and I think the outcome of that research will be interesting” Prof. Boso emphasized.

Monetizing culture

Tourism is a multi-trillion dollar business globally. Unfortunately, Ghana hasn’t been successful in harnessing its benefits for prosperity.

In a 2020 study, Prof. Boso and colleagues looked at the link between foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow and tourism development, using annual data for 44 countries in Africa from 1995 to 2014.

They concluded that creating a politically stable environment and sustaining a growing economy help attract FDI inflows to boost tourism development.

He is, however, sad that many tourists sites in Ghana have not been properly catered for as many historical tourist sites remain poorly maintained and look dejected.

He believes the country will benefit greatly from domestic tourism, with a strong business focus.

“Tourism, in my view is not a question of arts and culture. It’s a business. Let me take a tourist destination like Dubai. Everything is business. It’s not about them being Arabs. It’s not about the fact that Dubai is in a desert. It’s about how they monetize their culture and their location.”

He went on, “The entire tourism business is focused on the happiness, the satisfaction, and the memorable experience of the customer. Now, when tourists are coming to Ghana, to what extent are our local hotels customer-oriented? Do they really care about the happiness, the memorable positive experiences of their customers? I don’t think they really care. May be the international hotels in Ghana may be an exception, but overall, the standard is way below average. To what extent is the government of Ghana business-oriented to making sure that when tourists come, right from the time they arrive at the airport, to the time they return, do they received memorable experiences from Ghanaian public institutions such the police, immigration officials, customs officials, tourist information centers, etc.? Can we assure tourists that they will have wonderful experience of consistent supply of clean water, electricity, good roads to tourist sites?”

He further argues that, “Ghana’s embassies and high commissions abroad must become business-oriented by championing investment in the tourist sector; and I think, seriously, the visa regimes implement in some our embassies and high commissions should be overhauled to make them tourist friendly”. His contention is that, “if we want a good share of the global tourism trade, we need to start doing real tourism business”.

Overall, Prof. Boso’s contribution to international business scholarship using the African context has been remarkable. He has published in high impact elite journals including Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of World Business, Journal of Business Venturing, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of International Marketing, International Journal of Production Economics, Journal of Business Logistics and Journal of Business Research. He currently serves as the Consulting Editor (African Affairs) of the Journal of International Business Studies and an Associate Editor of International Marketing Review and Africa Journal of Management. He also served as the Vice-President of Academy of International Business Africa Chapter from 2018 to 2023.

Major Awards

Prof. Nathaniel Boso is a recipient of several international awards. Notably, in 2021 his article on “(How) Does Africa Matter for International Business Scholarship?” won the Academic International Business Insight Outstanding Article Award. He was also the winner of the 2019 S. Tamer Cavusgil Award from American Marketing Association Foundation, which recognizes the Journal of International Marketing article published in the calendar year that has made the most significant contribution to the advancement of the practice of international marketing management.

His research also won the 2017 Global Innovation and Knowledge Academy Best Conference paper; and the Best Empirical Paper Award at the 25th United States Association of Small Business & Entrepreneurship. He was appointed in 2021 to the prestigious O.R. Tambo Africa Research Chair Initiative with a budget of 14 Million South African Rand (USD 1.075 Million). He is also the principal investigator at KNUST on the USD 15 Million BRIDGE-Train project funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Prof. Boso has been a keynote speaker at several international academic gatherings including the Research and Innovation Strategy Group Dialogue of Universities South Africa, 6th International Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (Zambia), Southern University Global MBA Leadership Forum (USA), and University of Pretoria (South Africa) Africa Leadership Forum.


Prof. Boso has successfully supervised several PhD students in many countries and universities. As of 2024, he has successfully supervised and graduated 30 PhD students from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, University of Leipzig (Germany), Strathmore University (Kenya) and University of Leeds (United Kingdom). Besides PhD students, he has graduated more than 100 MPhil and MBA/MSc students. At the University of Leeds, two of his female PhD students won the outstanding graduating students awards for the quality of their research. His Ph.D. graduates are currently holding academic positions in leading universities such as Universities of Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Leicester and Loughborough in the UK, and KNUST, University of Ghana, and several technical universities in Ghana. His other PhD graduates are currently holding high-profile industry (e.g., Cargill, Equity Bank in Kenya) and policy (e.g., Parliament of Ghana) positions. Some of his notable PhD students include Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson (current Minority Leader in Parliament), Dr.  James Kofi Kutsoati (former Deputy Director of Ghana COCOBOD) and Lydia Kiburu (Group Director for Business Transformation, Brand & Culture, Equity Group Holdings Plc in Kenya).

On the 18th April, 2024, Prof. Nathaniel Boso will be delivering his professorial lecture on the topic, “International Business: Why Care About Africa?” at the Great Hall, KNUST