Science, technology and innovation (STI) was once hailed as the great accelerator of growth and welfare. But is it now in crisis, given the recent lack of ‘trickle-down’ gains combined with the environmental fallout of e-waste? A new article looks at the last half century of STI, as it comes to a crossroads.
Travel broadens the mind, but could it also change our perceptions? A new policy brief takes the case of Greek migrants in Germany, the Netherlands and United Kingdom — and takes a closer look at their tolerance towards corruption.
Finally, as we approach International Women’s Day, 8 March 2019, a new policy brief measures women’s empowerment in the Middle East and North Africa. The question is: how far does the struggle for gender equality serve as a catalyst for other development goals?
These are just three of the questions tackled by our researchers in February 2019 — in five journal articles, two working papers and two policy briefs, among many others. Click here for the full list of our most recent publications.
‘Science, technology and innovation studies at a crossroad: SPRU as case study‘. The setting up of the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at Sussex University 50 years ago represented a ‘transformative change’ in the research on science policy and the understanding of the nature and origin of technological change and innovation studies. It influenced policymakers across the world in both the mature Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries and the developing world. It made the topic of science, technology and innovation (STI) familiar to business studies scholars. Today though, the analysis of STI appears to be somewhat in crisis. On the one hand, there is growing evidence that the growth and welfare gains of new technologies and innovation are no longer forthcoming in an automatic ‘trickle-down’ fashion. The knowledge and technology diffusion ‘machine’ appears broken. On the other hand, there are growing environmental concerns about the negative externalities of unsustainable fossil-fuel-based growth as industrialisation spreads across the globe. STI policy appears somehow stuck in an industrial efficiency and consumerism mode that is unable to address in a satisfactory way the impact of such negative externalities. Can the broader historical approach as popularised within the so-called Science and Technology Studies (STS) tradition provide additional, complementary insights? Yes, if STI and STS scholars are prepared to leave their respective conceptual comfort zones and address in complementary fashion some of the major societal policy challenges confronting science, technology and innovation policy today. By Prof. Luc Soete.
‘Regional integration and the economic geography of Belarus‘ presents novel research on the economic geography of Belarus. The 118 regions of Belarus are examined in relation to the Eurasian Customs Union (EACU) through the period 2005–2014. The article indicates that EACU membership has corresponded to a slowdown in the process of regional economic convergence in Belarus, and intensified economic competition with a geographical dimension among regions. Furthermore, it finds some evidence that urban and industrial regions, and regional clusters of private business activity have benefited more from the EACU relative to less urbanised areas. Additionally, spatial clusters and outliers are identified and compared across the periods prior and after the establishment of the EACU. The authors’ preferred estimation model results suggest half-lives of convergence of about 9.4 and 31.5 years for the pre-EACU and EACU periods, respectively. By Dr. Mehmet Guney Celbis, Dr. Pui-hang Wong MPP graduate Tatjana Guznajeva.
‘Considering the benefits of hosting refugees: evidence of refugee camps influencing local labour market activity and economic welfare in Rwanda‘ examines the influence of Congolese refugees on host communities in Rwanda, with a focus on labour market activity and economic welfare. The analysis shows that residing close to a refugee camp makes it more likely that an individual is engaged in wage employment in comparison to farming or livestock production, representing a shift away from subsistence farming activities. In addition, there is evidence that females living nearby a camp have a higher occurrence of self-employment in business both as a primary and secondary activity, highlighting a notable gender-specific dynamic. Likewise, living in close proximity to a camp is associated with greater household asset ownership, benefiting both male- and female-headed households similarly, whereas no relationship is found in regard to ones’ subjective perception of their household’s economic situation. These generally encouraging results illustrate that refugees need not be a burden to their host societies, and their presence results in direct and indirect benefits. By Dr. Craig Loschmann, Dr. Özge Bilgili and Prof. Melissa Siegel.
‘The Multi-level Governance of Asylum in Italy: Understanding Eritreans’ Secondary Movements in Search of Relocation within Italy‘ examines how recent (2016–17) Eritrean arrivals in Italy experienced and responded to the asylum system. The analysis reflects, first, on the multi-level governance of the interplay between the institutional level of the European Union, national policy and local municipal policies within Italy. Second, this article shows how Eritrean asylum seekers have been refused access to the relocation programme by local authorities in Italy and how Eritreans react to this bureaucracy by engaging in secondary movements within Italy. The results provide an analytical critique regarding the governance shortcomings of the relocation programme in Italy that is important for consideration in future solidarity and responsibility-sharing initiatives within the European Union. By Dr. Katherine Kuschminder.
‘Using Mixed Methods to Examine Refugees and Other Migrants’ Decision-Making in Transit‘ aims to understand how migrants and other refugees make decisions regarding onward migration, stay, or return in Greece and Turkey. This case study explains the steps taken in the research practicalities to implement the project including the selection and training of fieldworkers, questionnaire programming, and survey checking. As refugees and other migrants are a vulnerable group, the informed consent process and the use of reciprocity within this study are discussed. The research analysis explores how the mixed-methods approach brought forth different components of the results. In the conclusion, key results and lessons learned are explored. By Dr. Katherine Kuschminder.
‘Measuring Women’s Empowerment in the Middle East and North Africa’ argues that although women’s empowerment is important in its own right, it is also a catalyst towards other development goals. Many important dimensions of empowerment have to be considered, including – but not limited to – economic empowerment through employment, decision-making power over income and credit and ownership rights, decision-making and representation in the community and society and an equitable workload. This brief presents new methodologies and tools that are particularly useful to monitor the evolution of women’s position in the household, the family and the community. Drawing from (a subset of) questions from existing surveys, which have been tested in various contexts, may be helpful to construct indicators that capture some of the more important domains of empowerment. By Dr. Micheline Goedhuys and Prof. Eleonora Nillesen.
‘Investigating the impact of experiences abroad on perceptions of corruption: A case-study on Greek migrants in Germany’ examined the impact of experiences abroad on perceptions of corruption of Greek migrants in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, countries with significantly lower reported levels of corruption (Transparency International, 2017). Utilising a case-study methodology and conducting 27 semi-structured interviews, the study indicates that Greek migrants’ experiences abroad influenced their perceptions of the phenomenon. The majority of the respondents reported lower tolerance towards corruption, a shift which lends support to our hypothesis but was manifested in various forms. By Dr. Ortrun Merkle and MPP graduate Kostas Papangelopoulos.
‘FDI, multinationals and structural change in developing countries’ starts by reviewing the extant knowledge about the relationship between MNE activity and economic development in developing countries. The paper shows that FDI has the potential to catalyse development, but actual outcomes are contingent on several factors, such as the absorptive capacity of domestic firms and the level of development of local financial markets. Then, the paper addresses the relationship between FDI and structural change more directly, in a cross-country context, using a two-step estimation approach that is consistent with both theoretical arguments and previous empirical findings which suggest that the FDI-development nexus is highly country-specific. The results confirm such heterogeneity and suggest that the interaction between the sectoral concentration of FDI and the development stage of the country plays a role in determining the development impact of FDI. By Prof. Rajneesh Narula and Dr.René Belderbos.
‘What gains and distributional implications result from trade liberalization?’ investigates the distributional impacts of trade liberalization across firms, consumers and workers. The paper shows that with input tariff cuts firms access higher quality and new input varieties. Consequently, firms increase their product scope and quality, while their production’s skill-intensity increases and costs decrease. ‘Real’ productivity (TFPQ) increases only in the medium run, following adjustments to produce more and higher quality products. Positive immediate revenue productivity (TFPR) gains result because firms’ markups increase. Consumers still gain as quality-adjusted prices decrease and varieties increase. Workers benefit differentially: skilled workers’ wages rise compared to less skilled workers’ wages. Input-tariff liberalisation also has distributional impacts across firms. Only more productive firms with high markups increase product scope and quality and gain market shares. With output-trade liberalization the least productive firms decrease their product scope. By Maria Bas, & Caroline Paunov.
The opinions expressed here are the authors’ own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.
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