Frequently Asked Questions: Public Policy and Private Business in Developing Countries

Wim Naudé, Maastricht School of Management

Adam Smith apparently detested businessmen. Development studies are often very suspicious of the role of big business in developing countries, treating business ‘like a tattooed man at a tea party’, as one commentator put it. Yet donors and international development organizations have in recent years embraced private sector development (PSD). Entrepreneurs are popularly seen as ‘heroes’ as a recent edition of The Economist hailed the need for entrepreneurship after the global financial crisis. In this light this paper focuses on a number of FAQs on PSD: What should be the role of public policy towards private business in developing countries? What can we learn from recent theoretical advances at the intersection of the fields of entrepreneurship and development economics? What lessons should policy makers take to heart from the increasing number of empirical studies, including impact assessments, that have recently focused on this question? And how can innovation by private sector entrepreneurs in developing countries best be supported by public policies?

Related reading:

- Naudé, W.A. (2011). ‘Entrepreneurship is not a Binding Constraint on Growth and Development in the Poorest Countries’, World Development, 39 (1), 33-44.
- Naudé, W.A. ed. (2011). Entrepreneurship and Economic Development. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. (
- Szirmai, A., Naudé, W.A. and Goedhuys, M. eds. Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Economic Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (

About the speaker
Wim Naudé is a professor and research director of development economics and entrepreneurship at the Maastricht School of Management. He studied at University of Warwick (UK). He has been a Senior Associate Member of St. Antony’s College Oxford and has served on the Faculty of International Advanced Research Institutes at Brown University, mainly on the technology entrepreneurship. He is currently also a Senior Research Fellow at the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University in Helsinki (Finland). Previously, he has been a professor and research director at North-West University (South Africa); a council member of Statistics (South Africa); and a lecturer and research officer at the University of Oxford (Centre for the Study of African Economies). His research focuses on entrepreneurship and governance, global development, spatial economics, and the economic development of Africa. He is an associate editor of Small Business Economics, and has been member of a number of international networks and advisory bodies including the International Council for Small Business (ICSB), the Club de Madrid and the Household in Conflict Network.

Venue: Conference Room

Date: 09 June 2011

Time: 12:30 - 13:30  CET