Our press review features the latest publications by UNU-MERIT and its School of Governance. Output for September includes 15 working papers, six journal articles, a research report and a PhD dissertation: covering productivity in services in Latin America and the Caribbean, the rise of biotechnology in agricultural innovation, and the current state of innovation indicators, among many others.
‘Weak Links and the Management of Reputational Interdependencies‘ takes account of how firms in an industry may have interdependent corporate reputations, thus sharing a “reputation commons.” The article argues that the theory of public goods can help us to understand the interdependencies that link corporate reputations and to frame the contexts and requirements for collective action that they induce. In particular, the authors suggest that more and more frequently these interdependencies make industry reputation a “weak link” public good. They show that this raises new challenges for the strategic management of industry reputation by communities of firms. Authors include Prof. Robin Cowan.
‘Reconceptualizing the ‘Anthropos’ in the Anthropocene: Integrating the Social Sciences and Humanities in Global Environmental Change Research‘ aims to mobilise the social sciences and the humanities on the topic of sustainability transitions, and to call for a meaningful research agenda to acknowledge the profound implications of the advent of the Anthropocene epoch. The article formulates the need for an innovative research agenda based on a careful consideration of the changing human condition, as linked to global environmental change and on developing integrated approaches, projects, and institutions that truly do so. Acknowledging human activities’ scale and impact, as well as the overly narrow perspectives of environmental research’s dominant natural sciences, the authors argue that a major effort is necessary to place the perspectives and insights of the humanities’ and social sciences’ at the forefront. Authors include affiliated researcher Rifka Weehuizen.
‘Return to Afghanistan: Migration as Reinforcement of Socio-Economic Stratification‘ explores the concept of multidimensional and multi-local embeddedness as an analytical approach to the multi-sited experience of migration. The article argues that socio-economic differences that existed prior to migration are reinforced by the migration experience, which results in strongly differentiated patterns of multidimensional embeddedness and transnational mobility. These patterns reinforce previously existing socio-economic stratification and restrict expectations of return migration and development. Authors include PhD fellow Marieke van Houte, Dr. Melissa Siegel.
‘Showing or Telling? Local Interaction and Organization of Behavior‘ presents a choice model based on agent interaction where interaction is modelled as face-to-face communication that takes place on a regular periodic lattice with decision-makers exchanging information only with immediate neighbours. The article investigates the long-run (equilibrium) behaviour of the resulting system and shows that, for a large range of initial conditions, clustering emerges and persists indefinitely in economic behaviour. Unlike many models in the literature, the model proposed by the authors allows for the analysis of multi-option environments and therefore adds to existing results by deriving the equilibrium distribution of option popularity and thus, implicitly, of market shares. Additionally, the model sheds new light on the emergence of the novel behaviour in societies. Authors include Prof. Robin Cowan.
‘Improving the Cost-Effectiveness of a Healthcare System for Depressive Disorders by Implementing Telemedicine: A Health Economic Modeling Study‘ looks at how to design a healthcare system that can effectively manage depressive disorders at sustainable costs. The authors computed the benefit-to-cost ratio of the current Dutch healthcare system for depression, and investigated whether offering more online preventive interventions improves the cost-effectiveness overall. They found that for a healthcare system for depressive disorders to remain economically sustainable, its cost-benefit ratio needs to be improved. The article argues that offering preventive telemedicine at a large scale is likely to introduce such an improvement. Authors include affiliated researcher Rifka Weehuizen.
‘Does Evidence of Network Effects on Firm Performance in Pooled Cross-section Support Prescriptions for Network Strategy?‘ presents a simulation study, contrasting firm performance effects in pooled cross-section and within-firm over time. The authors counsel caution when basing strategic prescriptions on pooled cross-sectional studies of firm performance in general, and in the case of network effects in particular. Authors include Prof. Robin Cowan.
‘The Impact of Food Transfers for People Living with HIV/AIDS: Evidence from Zambia‘ shows that food transfers significantly increase dietary diversity and food consumption expenditures in households with HIV positive members on antiretroviral therapy. The paper also shows that the food transfers increased the proportion of households with optimal dietary diversity and consuming at least five food groups. The authors discuss the implications of their findings in the context of the growing number of HIV/AIDS treatment, care and support programmes providing food assistance in resource poor settings. Authors include Dr. Nyasha Tirivayi.
‘The Effect of Unconditional Cash Transfers on Adult Labour Supply: A Unitary Discrete Choice Model for the Case of Ecuador‘ argues that there is no negative income effect of social transfers in the case of poor adults because leisure could not be assumed to be a normal good under such conditions. Using data from the national employment survey of Ecuador (ENEMDUR) the working paper estimates the effect of the Bono de Desarrollo Humano (BDH). Results show that cash transfers, unconditional in labour, do not produce labour disincentives in the case of household heads, but may be paying for housework and childcare provided by partners and single adults. However, labour market and care work gender inequality must be addressed by complementary policies, the paper says. By PhD fellow Andres Mideros Mora and Prof. Cathal O’Donoghue.
‘An Individual-centered Approach to Multidimensional Poverty: The Cases of Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru‘ deals with the problem of selecting the unit of analysis in multidimensional poverty analyses, which is a central decision to take, both from academic and normative points of view.The paper compares the results of an individual-level Multidimensional Poverty Index for Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru with a household-based measure. The author finds that multidimensional poverty is considerably different than income poverty in all countries. A simple ranking constructed with the Multidimensional Index and using the four countries for every individual approach, shows that the ordering prevails for smaller levels of the deprivation cut-off. In every scenario, Chile has the best scores of multidimensional poverty, followed by Colombia. Differences between Ecuador and Peru show that the rank-ordering does not prevail when the unit of analysis or cut-offs change. By PhD fellow Andrea Franco-Correa.
‘Widowhood and Barriers to Seeking Healthcare in Uganda‘ finds that compared to other women, widows were more likely to identify getting money for treatment and not wanting to visit health facilities alone as barriers. According to this paper, the odds for encountering barriers are higher for poor and uneducated widows and to some extent for non-poor widows and those with a basic education. The author concludes that widows are at greater risk of experiencing barriers to health care seeking than other women and may require special consideration in poor countries. By Dr. Nyasha Tirivayi.
‘Size and Economies of Scale in Higher Education and the Implications for Mergers‘ estimates the optimal size of higher education institutions (HEI) and discusses the implications for merger strategies. After carrying out a meta regression analysis, the paper finds an optimal institutional size of 24,954 students. While the authors find potential opportunities for merging different HEIs to be relative to their mean sample size, when comparing with actual sizes of top-ranked universities, they also find that in some parts of the world top ranked universities seem to be below optimal size, while in others they appear above optimal size. Authors include Dr. Nyasha Tirivayi.
‘Giving in South Africa: Determining the Influence of Altruism, Inequality Aversion and Social Capital‘ uses data from the South African Social Giving Survey to investigate the role of social capital and motivations for giving to formal charities and beggars. The paper suggests that both impure altruism and inequality aversion positively influence giving to formal charities but they have no influence on giving to beggars. The role of social capital is varied. Members of informal insurance groups are more likely to give to both charities and beggars, while members of formal community groups are more likely to give to charities only. Members of interest groups are actually less likely to donate to charities and prefer giving to beggars. By Dr. Nyasha Tirivayi.
‘The Viability of Sustained Growth by India’s MNEs: India’s Dual Economy and Constraints from Location Assets‘ considers the longer-term viability of the internationalisation and success of Indian MNEs. The paper applies the ‘dual economy’ concept to reconcile the contradictions of the typical emerging economy, where a ‘modern’ knowledge-intensive economy exists alongside a ‘traditional’ resource-intensive economy. Each type of economy generates firms with different types of ownership advantages, and hence different types of MNEs and internationalisation patterns. The authors argue that the potential for Indian MNEs to grow requires an understanding of India’s dual economy and the constraints from the home country’s location advantages, particularly those in its knowledge infrastructure. By Prof. Rajneesh Narula.
‘Asset Recombination in International Partnerships as a Source of Improved Innovation Capabilities in China‘ examines how multinational enterprises (MNEs) and local partners, including suppliers, customers and competitors in China, improve their innovation capabilities through collaboration. The paper reveals important patterns of reciprocal transfer, sharing and integration for different asset categories (tacit, codified) and different forms of FSA and explicitly links these to different innovation performance outcomes. Authors include Prof. Rajneesh Narula.
‘The Size of Patent Categories: USPTO 1976-2006‘ attempts to clarify some of the key processes underlying the evolution of technological and scientific classification systems by studying one of the most important, relatively well defined quantity: the size distribution of categories (or the size-rank relationship). The study examines the US patents granted by the USPTO between 1976 and 2006, partitioned at the level of more than 400 classes and 100,000 subclasses. It shows that the size distribution of patent subclasses departs from a pure power law, and is shown to be closer to a shifted power law. At a higher aggregation level (patent classes), the rank-size relation deviates even more from a pure power law, and is shown to be closer to a generalized beta curve. By affiliated researcher François Lafond.
‘Appropriability Mechanisms, Innovation and Productivity: Evidence from the UK‘ examines the relationship between appropriability mechanisms, innovation and firm‐level productivity. The paper finds that firms that innovate and rate formal methods for the protection of Intellectual Property (IP) highly are more productive than other firms, but that the same does not hold in the case of informal methods for the protection of a firm’s IP, except possibly for large firms as opposed to SMEs. The authors also find that this result is strongest for firms in the services, trade, and utility sectors, and negative in the manufacturing sector. Authors include Prof. Bronwyn Hall.
‘International R&D Alliances by Firms: Origins and Development‘ considers the dramatic increase in all forms of international cooperation in science, technology and innovation over the last three decades and focuses on a specific subset of such cooperative agreements: those that primarily (but not exclusively) involve firms that seek some commercial benefit from the outputs of inter-firm collaboration, known as strategic technology partnering (STP). The study gives special attention is given to clearly define the unique nature of these collaborative agreements, as well as the reasons and theories behind their growth, by focusing on their international dimension, identifying international STP trends, and looking at how the cross-border aspect of these alliances impinges on their formation and success. The authors also discusses managerial challenges and policy implications related to STP. Authors include Prof. Rajneesh Narula.
‘Optimal Public Investment, Growth, and Consumption: Fresh Evidence from African Countries‘ develops a model positing a nonlinear relationship between public investment and growth. Applying the model to a panel of African countries using nonlinear estimating procedures, the study estimates the growth-maximizing level of public investment at about 10 percent of GDP based on System GMM estimation. The paper further runs simulations, obtaining the constant optimal public investment share that maximizes the sum of discounted consumption as between 8:1 percent and 9:6 percent of GDP. Compared with the observed end-of-panel mean value of no more than 7:26 percent, these estimates suggest that there has been significant public under-investment in Africa. Authors include Drs. Yoseph Yilma Getachew and Thomas Ziesemer.
‘Productivity in Services in Latin America and the Caribbean‘ shows that the low levels of productivity observed in the region are not only a consequence of low productivity at the firm level, but also of misallocation of workers across firms. The paper finds that problems are more severe in services than in manufacturing and that the factors for productivity and employment growth at the firm level are different in manufacturing and services. Furthermore, results suggest that institutional actors might be important for determining productivity growth and resource allocation, as there are large differences across countries in the region in the effect of productivity on employment growth as well as on the speed at which less productive firms can close their productivity gaps. Authors include PhD fellow Fernando Vargas.
‘Where are Innovation Indicators, and their Applications, Going?’ reviews the current state of indicators of the activity of innovation and how they are presented for use in the policy process leading to a discussion of the development of new indicators, some outside of the business sector, which raises questions about the definition of innovation. The paper reviews plans for the evolution of innovation indicators and their use over the next few years and discusses international organisations and forums which could facilitate progress towards new indicators and a better understanding of innovation systems. By Prof. Fred Gault.
‘Globalization, the Rise of Biotechnology and Catching Up in Agricultural Innovation: The case of Bt technology in India‘ identifies the agricultural sector as a driving force of innovation and presents a conceptual framework that characterizes the knowledge required for successful agricultural innovation against the backdrop of globalisation and rise of biotechnology. The study examines the case of diffusion of Bt cotton hybrids (Bacillus thuringiensis, an insect resistant seed technology) in India to illustrate the dynamics of knowledge creation and catching up by the local seed firms based on their interactions with global as well as other local firms. The analysis reveals that the local firms with absorptive capacity can catch up with global frontier technologies to gain significant domestic market shares. By Dr. Michiko Iizuka and PhD fellow Ajay Thutupalli.
‘Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) – Performance of China’ tracks the evolution of China’s STI performance. This new report considers the economic impact not only on Chinese competitiveness but also on global markets, while noting the differences between various science and technology fields, economic sectors, and types of actors involved. Authors include Dr. René Wintjes.
‘Female Return Migration and Reintegration in Ethiopia’ aims to understand how different return migrants reintegrate through a comparative case study of three types of female returnees to Ethiopia: domestic workers, students, and professionals. By Dr. Katherine Kuschminder.