In India, diversification is said to improve firm performance. But is this always the case or does it rely on untapped potential and spare capacity on the production line? A new paper takes a broad look at coherence and performance across the Indian manufacturing sector.
From Dutch villages to Chinese cities, the “Circular Economy” shares common characteristics worldwide based among others on tailored services and direct customer contact. But could this chain be broken by control freak manufacturers and the rising cost of spare parts? A new article weighs up the challenges in a number of European and Asian countries.
There is a growing need to match research to policymaking, especially in the field of migration and integration. But how important is it to go beyond the ‘research-policy nexus’? A new article shows how the media, public opinion, and other dimensions of public debate can interact with research and policy processes.
These are just a few of the questions tackled by our researchers in April 2019 — in six journal articles, five working papers and two reports, among many others. Click here for the full list of our most recent publications.
‘Circular Economy as a glocal business activity: Mobile phone repair in the Netherlands, Poland and China’ analyses the business ecosystem of independent mobile phone repair shops in the Netherlands, Poland and China as a glocal business activity. Findings indicate that to maintain a strong position in the local market and to sustain the trust of customers, independent mobile phone repair shops offer a range of customised services based on direct contact with customers. In China, the increasing prices of spare parts and falling prices of mobile phones constitute the most important challenges, whereas in the Netherlands and Poland, the most important challenges are the competitive pressures from informal repair activities, and new repair shops. The study also revealed that repairability strongly depends on the global manufacturers’ circularity choices. By Dr. Serdar Turkeli, Prof. René Kemp et al.
‘On consortium-driven sanitation interventions to end open defecation: insights from an Indian village study’ examines the evolution of sanitation coverage in Kameshwaram village in India via interventions by two consortia involving public agencies, private actors, international bodies and social enterprises and their impact in the short and medium terms. The case study highlights five sources of challenges: disconnect with evaluation of innovation by beneficiary, partner risks, stakeholder risks, systemic risks and missing institutions. The article argues that private incentives can be aligned for social welfare, only if payoffs to consortium actors are based not only on the attainment of implementation targets, but also on the impact produced. Thus, incentive design must only reward toilet installations that are of quality construction, safe, functional, long-lasting and being used. By Prof. Shyama Ramani.
‘Local people’s views on the evidence-based skilled-maternal-care in Mfuwe, Zambia: a qualitative study’ tackles the division among scholars regarding the usefulness of the evidence-based approach to maternal health in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The case study in Mfuwe, Zambia, investigates local people’s views on the introduction of skilled-maternal-care in Zambia. The study shows that the evidence-based strategy (of exclusive skilled-care) led to improved quality of care in cases where it was accessible. However, not all women had access to skilled-care; thus the act of outlawing the only alternative form of care (Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) seemed to have been counterproductive in the context of Mfuwe. The study demonstrates that incorporating TBAs rather than obscuring them may offer an opportunity for improving their potential benefits and minimising their limitations. This study illustrates that while evidence-based strategies remain useful in improving maternal care, they need to be carefully appropriated in poor settings in order to increase access and quality of care. By Dr. Choolwe Muzyamba.
‘Racial discrimination in local public services: A field experiment in the United States’ examines whether racial discrimination exists in access to public services in the United States. The authors find that emails from putatively black senders are almost 4 percentage points less likely to receive an answer compared to emails signed with a white-sounding name. Moreover, responses to queries coming from black names are less likely to have a cordial tone. Further tests suggest that the differential in the likelihood of answering is due to animus toward blacks rather than inferring socioeconomic status from race. Finally, the study shows that attitudes toward the government among blacks are more negative in states with higher discrimination. By Dr. Corrado Giulietti et al.
‘Gaps and challenges of migration policy advice: The German experience’ provides a combination of scholarly research and personal experience from a group of experts and specialists in migration and integration policies, as well as media studies and public opinion. The article includes contributions from researchers and public policy experts who are deeply involved in attempts to link research to policymaking in the field of migration and integration and demonstrates the importance of going beyond the ‘research-policy nexus’ to show how the media, public opinion, and other dimensions of public debate can interact with research and policy-processes. By Prof. Klaus F. Zimmermann.
‘Factors associated with choice of antenatal, delivery and postnatal services between HIV positive and HIV negative women in Zambia’ aims to investigates the differences in factors affecting choice of care during antenatal, delivery and postnatal periods between HIV positive and HIV negative women. The study also investigates the effect of HIV positive status on choice of care. Results show that reasons for choosing professional care during antenatal, at birth, and postnatal periods are the same for both HIV positive and HIV negative women. Further, they also indicate that although the probability of utilising professional care is slightly higher for HIV positive women, the difference is negligible. The authors also demonstrate that in Zambia, utilisation of professional care among HIV positive women is not particularly high. They further point out that although institutional care is desirable and an ideal solution for HIV positive women, insisting on institutional care when the health facilities lack adequate trained personnel, drugs, and equipment is counterproductive. By Dr. Choolwe Muzyamba, Prof. Wim Groot, Dr. Sonila Tomini et al.
‘Action knowledge transfer on migrant smuggling and trafficking by air and document fraud’ examines the trends and patterns of smuggling and trafficking via air routes, the modi operandi, the role of document fraud, the gaps in technical and institutional capacity for air border management in Nigeria, Morocco and India as well as the best practices identified in each of these partner countries. The study finds that while the use of air routes in smuggling and trafficking is relatively limited, it remains an issue of concern for European and partner countries’ law enforcement agencies present at airports. The report highlights the limitations regarding data collection and data reporting as well as the challenges of communication and information sharing among the relevant stakeholders. Most European police liaison officers do not have smooth communication with local law enforcement agencies and have only very limited access to the airport. There is also potential for improvement concerning information exchange between EU law enforcement agencies. All in all, transnational organised crime networks of smuggling and trafficking can only be tackled through enhanced 83 communication and coordination among all authorities concerned in origin, transit and destination countries. By Clara Alberola and Chiara Janssen.
‘Migration routes in West and Central Africa & East and Horn of Africa – 2018 Update’ provides an analysis of the most recent trends in African migration and shows that underneath small shifts in routes and flows, long-established trends prevail. The study finds, among others, that efforts in West and Central Africa to halt irregular migration from reaching Europe seem to be yielding results – arrivals through the Mediterranean routes have returned to pre-2015 levels -, but that irregular migration flows have not ceased and smuggling remains a prevalent issue. Routes between smuggling hubs have adapted, diversified, and ‘clandestinised’, especially for those to and from Agadez, Niger. Spain is now the top country of destination for Mediterranean crossings in 2018. Secondly, there have been large internal displacements in East and the Horn of Africa, especially in Ethiopia in the first half of 2018, further compounding difficult humanitarian assistance and stressing host communities. At the same time, many of the same drivers of displacement have driven refugees and asylum seekers into neighboring countries, several of which are already dealing with separate IDP and/or refugee situations. By Clara Alberola et al.
‘Thriving within the turbulence: A complexity theorizing approach to social innovation in non-profit organizations’ is a chapter in the Handbook of Research on Contemporary Approaches in Management and Organizational Strategy. This chapter explores the perplexing problem-domain of social innovation by adopting a ‘complexity lens’ to holistically interpret the intertwined forces propelling social innovation within organisational contexts. The authors consider the role and impacts of social innovation as it unfolds in nonprofit organisations (NPOs) operating in a national sector grappling with rapid states of change. Specifically, this chapter outlines a review of germane cross-disciplinary literatures to uncover new theoretical perspectives of the dynamic social processes behind this phenomenon. By Prof. Anthony Arundel et al.
‘Job automation risk, economic structure and trade: a European perspective’ elaborates on whether technological developments in machine learning and artificial intelligence present a significant risk to jobs in advanced countries, by providing a re-estimation of the automation risk at the job level. The study finds sectoral employment structure to be key in determining automation risk at the country level. At the country level, it finds a negative relationship between automation risk and labour productivity. The authors then analyse the role of trade as a factor leading to structural changes and consider the effect of trade on aggregate automation risk by comparing automation risk between a hypothetical autarky and the actual situation. Results indicate that trade increases automation risk in Europe, although moderately so. European countries with high labour productivity see automation risk increase due to trade, with trade between European and non-European nations driving these results. This implies that the high productivity countries do not, on the balance, offshore automation risk, but rather import it. By Dr. Neil Foster-McGregor, Dr. Önder Nomaler and Prof. Bart Verspagen.
‘The breadth of preferential trade agreements and the margins of exports’ uses recently available data on the core economic provisions of PTAs to identify which (types of) provisions seem to promote bilateral exports and the intensive and extensive margins of exports. The evidence suggests that measures applied at the border tend to be aimed at expanding existing trade, while measures applied behind the border are aimed at creating trade in new products. Preferential measures tended to increase bilateral total exports and bilateral exports at the intensive margin, but have no significant effect on bilateral exports at the extensive margin. Measures applied on an MFN basis are unlikely to provide improved market access for PTA partners. When included individually the study finds that no provision has a statistically significant effect of the same sign on both trade margins, confirming the view that existing and potential exporters have opposing interests in PTA formation. Finally, it provides estimated effects for selected PTAs. By Dr. Neil Foster-McGregor et al.
‘Brazilian exporters and the rise of Global Value Chains: an empirical assessment’ studies how production fragmentation has affected the performance of Brazilian exporters in the manufacturing sector. The paper confirms exporting customised intermediates is associated with a superior performance in comparison to other intermediates; but also highlights a strong influence of sector specificities. The paper also investigates the existence of learning‐ by exporting effects and finds no evidence for firms that produce customised intermediates exclusively. However, exports of customised products in general – i.e. both final and intermediate goods – are associated with learning. This result suggests trade in customised intermediates might be associated with learning when firms manage to upgrade their products to other customised goods. By PhD fellow Caio Torres Mazzi.
‘What a firm produces matters: diversification, coherence and performance of Indian manufacturing firms’ investigates the relationship between diversification (and coherent diversification) and firm performance by employing an extensive database of Indian manufacturing firms with detailed information on product mix of firms. Overall, the paper indicates an intangible capabilities model of firm diversification: diversification results in improved firm performance if the firm has underused capabilities and the new production line is able to exploit them. By Dr. Nanditha Mathew.
‘How has globalisation affected the economic growth, structural change and poverty reduction linkages? Insights from international comparisons’ examines economic growth, structural change and poverty reduction linkages across 147 countries of the world during 1991-2015 and proposes a conceptual framework to explain how growth and structural dynamics have been influenced by globalisation. The paper questions the sustainability of the growth and structural change processes taking place in the developing world and calls for deeper strategic government interventions for broad based economic development with an emphasis on manufacturing. By Aradhna Aggarwal.
‘Firm participation, learning and innovation in heterogeneous value chains of IT-enabled services: The case of South Africa’ examines how developing countries can successfully participate in GVCs. By taking the case of South Africa, it analyses the characteristics and drivers of firm participation in local, regional and global value chains of IT-enabled services, and the mechanisms of firm learning and innovation. To this end, qualitative and quantitative data were collected through interviews and a questionnaire survey, respectively. This dissertation shows that learning in value chains and learning from the NIS are both important for capability building at the firm level. From a policy perspective, strengthening the NIS is key to tackle current challenges facing the South African ITES sector (e.g. shortages of skills and lack of industry interactions) and can positively influence the development of firms’ internal resources, promote GVC participation, and facilitate learning in GVCs. By Dr. Charlotte Keijser.
‘Educational pathways and skills: Past, present and future‘ builds a dataset for vocational secondary schooling and uses it to determine the effect of vocational secondary schooling on long-run macroeconomic performance. The thesis examines the effect of public investment on adult numeracy skills and concludes that public investment is an important determinant, and that the timing and spread of investment matters. In 12 advanced economies, differences are found between people who pursued vocational versus general higher education in: their use of numeracy skills on the job and their education-job match. These differences depend (at least in part) on the structure of the overall education system. By Dr. Alison Cathles.
The opinions expressed here are the authors’ own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.
Flickr / LROP