Our press review features the latest publications by UNU-MERIT and its School of Governance, plus mentions in the media. Output for March includes 11 working papers, one discussion paper and one journal article. Our research spans the globe, covering exports and investments in Turkey, education and development in the Middle East, and rural entrepreneurship in Africa, among many others. Our researchers also featured in the Brussels-based Science|Business and the Dakar-based SudQuotidien.
‘Public investment and regional politics: The case of Turkey’ constructs a unique regional gross value added (GVA) series, in a bid to analyse regional transport and communication investments for the 26 regions of Turkey in the years 1999 to 2011. The working paper accounts for the possibility of dependence between allocation decisions for different infrastructure types. Results strongly suggest that political bias was present in the allocation decisions of regional transportat and communication public investments in Turkey. By PhD fellow Mehmet Guney Celbis, Prof. Joan Muykens et al.
‘Infrastructure and the international export performance of Turkish regions’ investigates bilateral export flows from 26 Turkish regions to 180 countries for the years 2002 to 2010. The working paper shows that land infrastructure, air transport capacity, and private maritime infrastructure presence, together with the distance of regional economies to exit nodes such as ports and airports, are key factors in export performance. By PhD fellow Mehmet Guney Celbis et al.
‘The influence of vulnerability on migration intentions in Afghanistan’ assumes that in a setting like Afghanistan, the difference between voluntary and involuntary movement is not easily distinguishable. Published in the journal Migration and Development, the article provides evidence that vulnerable households are less likely to plan their migrations. This implies that it is not the “poorest of the poor”, or the “most vulnerable of the vulnerable” who aspire to move, indicating that households have a realistic understanding of their capabilities, given the inherent costs and risks of cross-border movement. By PhD fellow Craig Loschmann and Dr. Melissa Siegel.
‘End-user collaboration for process innovation in services: The role of internal resources’ focuses on how to improve process innovation in service sectors. The working paper analyses how, at firm level, the interplay between external knowledge sources and internal resources impact process innovation. The study suggests that partnerships are more beneficial than isolated innovating, because co-creating value with end-users and other partners requires an approach that is not only open but also rigorous and structured. The authors argue that the success of process innovation depends on service firms seeking to deliver deep and broad changes, through end-user collaboration, multi-partner engagement, and commitment of internal resources. By Prof. Rajneesh Narula et al.
‘The impact of ICT in public and private universities in Sudan’ highlights the main educational advantages of using the web. It covers production enhancement, creation and transfer of knowledge (including the increase of digital knowledge for academic and researchers), the rapid quantitative and qualitative increase in transferring information, the development of new models for disseminating and distributing electronic information, and the increase of free access to electronic publications for academic purposes. This working paper says the main problem related to using the web is the lack of a regular budget for university libraries to pay for licences and access to scientific and technical information. By Dr. Samia Nour.
‘Overview of knowledge transfer in MENA countries – The case of Egypt’ explains the factors that enable or impede absorption capacity and knowledge transfer in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly in Egypt. This working paper says these factors are linked to institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, higher education and training, goods market efficiency and labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness and capacity for innovation. The major policy implication is that knowledge transfer is facilitated by supporting the linkages between the different knowledge transfer channels within this systematic framework. By Dr. Samia Nour.
‘Parental leave take up and return to work of mothers in Luxembourg: An application of the model of nested dichotomies’ provides an integrated analysis of women’s labour market participation decisions after the birth of a child. The working paper lends partial evidence to economic reasoning about mothers’ decisions. The opportunity cost of not working, measured by the pre-birth salary seems to play an important role in the decisions related to leaving the labour force. However, it does not seem to explain decisions related to taking parental leave. Women who have two or more other children are more likely to take leave their employment after maternity leave. By PhD fellow Nevena Zhelyazkova.
‘Discovering and explaining work-family strategies of parents in Luxembourg’ sets out the typical patterns of work-family reconciliation for parents who had a child in the same period (2003) and in the same country (Luxembourg), thus facing the same macroeconomic and institutional conditions. The working paper reveals that when the birth of a child is positioned as a pivotal point in the work-family trajectory, it appears to be a transition point for about a third of the female trajectories. For these women the event marks the beginning of a long-term reduction of labour participation manifested either in reducing the number of hours of work or in leaving the labour force. By contrast, the career trajectories of working fathers are stable across time and for the majority of fathers there are no marked differences in work-force participation before and after the birth of a child. PhD fellow Nevena Zhelyazkova
‘Structure of labour market and unemployment in Sudan’ uses new secondary data on population, employment and unemployment to explain several stylized facts. This working paper looks at the relations between labour market structure and demographic structure, labour force, participation rates, economic activities, low skill level and high unemployment rate defined by gender and mode of living in Sudan. The study finds a positive and significant correlation between unemployment and inflation rates in Sudan during the period 2000-2008 and presents a more comprehensive analysis of four stylized facts on the unemployment problem in Sudan. The major recommendation is that policies for reducing unemployment should deal with endogenous and exogenous causes. Another major policy implication implies that macroeconomic policies aimed at or targeting reducing inflation rates would also help to reduce unemployment rates in Sudan. By Dr. Samia Nour.
‘Education, training and skill development policies in Arab Gulf countries: Macro-micro overview’ uses a combination of secondary and primary data to provide a more comprehensive analysis of education, training and skill development policies in the Gulf countries. The working paper discusses both the supply and demand sides of educational policies in the Gulf countries and introduces a novel element by presenting and comparing the macro and micro views/perspectives concerning plans and policies implemented to improve skill upgrading. The author recommend further efforts to be made to enhance the consistency between the macro-micro views and public-private sectors, particularly with respect to arrangement of priorities, plans and mechanisms to ensure more consistent, effective and successful policies for skill development and encouraging private sector participation in education and training. By Dr. Samia Nour.
‘Assessment of effectiveness of Chinese aid in competence building and financing development in Sudan’ uses new primary data at the micro level and finds that Chinese aid and loans to Sudan caused mixed positive-negative impacts. From the perspective of new approaches to financing development, this working paper finds that even when a country faces binding political and economic sanctions, it can still proceed with competence building and finance a high growth strategy if it is endowed with natural resources and a partner that is in need of such resources. Beyond financial capital, Chinese aid and development assistance include technical assistance in the form of scholarships for training and education. By Dr. Samia Nour.
‘Non-Farm Entrepreneurship in Rural Africa: Patterns and Determinants’ provides the first comparative empirical description of the patterns and determinants of non-farm entrepreneurship in rural Africa. Using the World Bank’s LSMS-ISA dataset on six countries: Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda, the IZA discussion paper finds that non-farm entrepreneurship predominantly creates informal jobs and mostly for family members; that these jobs tend to be transient and influenced by seasonality in agriculture; and that there is substantial heterogeneity across countries in the determinants of rural non-farm entrepreneurship. The authors conclude that rural entrepreneurship continues to fulfill mainly a risk-diversifying role and this may suggest that policies to foster effective rural-urban migration and wage employment in rural areas, have largely failed in Africa. By PhD fellow Paula Nagler and Prof. Wim Naudé.
‘Patents as quality signals? The implications for financing constraints on R&D’ adds to previous insights by studying the effects of firms’ patenting activity on the degree of financing constraints on R&D for a panel of established firms. The working paper shows that patents do indeed attenuate financing constraints for small firms where information asymmetries may be particularly high and collateral value is low. Larger firms are not only less subject to financing constraints, but also do not seem to benefit from a patent quality signal. By Prof. Bronwyn Hall et al.
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