How will artificial intelligence, big data, and open source technologies impact society? What are the opportunities and challenges posed by new technologies and digitisation? A new EU report shows that automation is creating new opportunities for the social economy, mainly in terms of increased reach and effectiveness.
When the pandemic finally recedes, how should we rebuild our societies? How can we ensure a less divided and more sustainable world? Drawing inspiration from the Bauhaus movement, a new policy brief suggests we begin with a socially stronger and fairer Europe combined with a low-carbon economy.
These are just a couple of questions tackled by our researchers in October 2020 — in one policy brief, three journal articles, and five working papers, among many others. Click here for the full list of our most recent publications.
‘Product innovation and informal market competition in sub-Saharan Africa: Firm-level evidence’ investigates the effect of informal competition on the performance of innovative products introduced by formal firms. The article finds that local informal competition has a robust negative effect on product innovation intensity of formal firms, while within industry informal competition enhances innovative sales. However, larger firms are less affected by local informal competition and actually get a boost in innovative sales from informal competition. The authors argue that local informal competition harms the performance of product innovation, but only for formal firms that lack strategic collaborative ‘footholds’ in the informal economy. By Dr. Elvis Avenyo, Dr. Maty Konte and Prof. Pierre Mohnen.
‘On PTAs and bilateral trade: Is GVC trade sensitive to the breadth of trade policy cooperation?’ This article studies the relationship between the scope of trade policy cooperation and bilateral trade flows with a particular focus on global value chain (GVC) trade. Using data on the core and non-core provisions included in preferential trade agreements (PTAs), the article finds that broader PTAs have a larger impact on trade flows involving intermediates relative to flows involving all products, suggesting that GVC trade is particularly sensitive to the scope of trade policy cooperation. The study also investigates different dimensions of heterogeneity in PTAs and finds that core provisions tend to drive the effect of PTAs on the level of GVC trade and that PTAs are particularly effective in raising the level of GVC trade between developing economies. The authors explore these issues using a sample of 189 countries over the period 1990–2015, with data obtained from the latest release of the EORA multi-regional input–output tables and UN-COMTRADE data. By PhD fellow Michele Delera and Prof. Neil Foster-McGregor.
‘Coping during COVID-19: Family businesses and social assistance in Nigeria’ examines the impact of changes in income and social assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic on the coping strategies of family business owners. The article finds that family business owners who experienced a reduction in income and received social assistance due to the pandemic are likely to increase their coping level. The authors discuss the policy implications of these findings. By Dr. Elvis Avenyo and PhD fellow Gideon Ndubuisi.
‘New technologies and digitisation: Opportunities and challenges for the social economy and social enterprises‘ explores how the rising importance of the social economy in Europe is facing the challenges of digital transformation. The report focuses on whether, why, how, and to what extent the integration of digital platforms and advanced technologies (i.e. Open-Source, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Big Data, Distributed Ledger Technologies) may affect the design and delivery of new/better social and societal impact by the social economy. This study shows that digital platforms and advanced technologies’ capabilities of automating and simplifying operations are opening up opportunities for the social economy in terms of increased reach and enhanced effectiveness. Digitalisation also underpins the creation of new and innovative social services and working conditions helping to tackle existing and emerging social and societal problems. Resources for Research and Innovation as well as traditional sources of revenues play an important role for the development and take-up of digital technologies for and by the social economy. Likewise, entrepreneurial and digital skills of social economy actors are needed to foster the vision of the European digital social economy. By Dr. René Wintjes, Kirsten Haaland, Dr. Serdar Turkeli et al.
‘Economic adjustment during the Great Recession: The role of managerial quality’ investigates empirically how managerial practices have affected macroeconomic adjustment during the Great Recession after the 2008 economic crisis. The paper finds that, in countries where management quality is higher, production and employment are more resilient during the Great Recession, with less production losses and employment damages, no effects on productivity, wage moderation and a slight increase in the labour shares. It appears, moreover, that this resilience increases with the size of industry shocks. By Prof. Jacques Mairesse et al.
‘Inter-sectoral and international R&D spillovers’ reviews the literature on (international) R&D spillovers and the various ways that have been proposed to measure such spillovers. Although distinctions have been made between knowledge spillovers due to the public good nature of knowledge on the one hand, and ‘rent’ or ‘pecuniary’ spillovers between suppliers and buyers due to the incomplete translation of R&D-induced quality improvements into the price of intermediates on the other hand, this distinction is difficult to make empirically. The variety of potential transmission channels and transmission effects – all with their measurement problems, suggests calculating spillover matrices that are sufficiently broad to capture their correlated effects. The paper describes two matrices of inter-sectoral and international spillover weights based on patent citation data. By Prof. René Belderbos and Prof. Pierre Mohnen.
‘Does value chain participation facilitate the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies in developing countries?’ develops a framework for the firm-level analysis of the adoption of digital technology in developing economies. The paper investigates whether firms’ participation in global value chains (GVCs) can facilitate the adoption of digital technologies. Using a novel database on the adoption of different generations of technology by manufacturing firms in Ghana, Vietnam, and Thailand, the authors document that the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies remains extremely limited. They also find that firms’ participation in GVCs is an important driver of digital technology adoption, and that adoption is positively associated with firm-level performance. By PhD fellow Michele Delera, Prof. Carlo Pietrobelli, PhD fellow Elisa Calza and Dr. Alejandro Lavopa.
‘Is sub-Saharan Africa deindustrializing?’ provides extensive evidence on industrialisation in Africa, using carefully constructed data and other reliable sources. The paper does not find convincing and robust evidence in support of the general view that Africa is deindustrialising prematurely. Expanding the study to almost all countries in Africa, the results suggest that Africa is not deindustrialising, although there has not been any significant industrial development since the 1970s. This result masks important regional differences. A sub-regional analysis shows that East Africa is industrialising, whereas Southern Africa is the only region that seems to be deindustrialising. The author examines the underlying drivers of manufacturing performance and discusses the implication for data collection and industrial policy in Africa. By PhD fellow Emmanuel Buadi Mensah.
‘The role of domestic-firm knowledge in foreign R&D collaborations: Evidence from co-patenting in Indian firms’ analyses the impact of foreign R&D collaborations on the performance of domestic firms and how the relationship is augmented by the pre-existing capabilities of the domestic firms. Using data on Indian firms, the paper studies patterns of co-invention of Indian firms with foreign partners. The results from a causal mediation analysis confirm the crucial role played by domestic firms’ absorptive capacity in enhancing the benefits from a foreign collaboration. The evidence highlights the microeconomics behind the process of technological capability accumulation and catching up in developing countries. By Dr. Nanditha Mathew et al.
‘The 4B’s: Follow Bauhaus to build back a better world’ explains how a design-based approach known as ‘Bauhaus’ can be used to build back something truly better in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. This policy brief proposes to start with a socially stronger and fairer Europe combined with a low-carbon economy. The word ‘design’ first refers to a practice of designers for aesthetic products that last a long time and second, to social design as a partnership for multiple value creation, i.e. design for people by people. City authorities, planners, architects, students, investors, cooperatives and partnerships for multiple value creation are considered as key actors in this transformative programme. By Prof. René Kemp et al.
‘Essays on entrepreneurship in Colombia‘ explores several aspects of the microenterprise sector and its contribution to inclusive social development in Colombia. The dissertation widens the knowledge about entrepreneurs and the policies designed to support them. It presents an in-depth picture of entrepreneurs in Cartagena, Colombia, and studies the effects of the interaction of different policies on this group. The results inform a broad range of policy issues relevant to development, policymaking, and research communities in Colombia, Latin-America and other low- and middle-income economies. By Dr. Omar Rodriguez.
‘International organizations and global migration governance‘ tells the story of how migration has evolved as a global policy issue since 1919. The dissertation analyses the different ways that migration has been framed, by whom, and to what end in order to draw attention to the role of power in the evolution of global migration governance. Drawing on interviews with 43 key protagonists, actors involved in global-level discussions on migration, and the UN archives, the dissertation investigates how migration became a global governance issue, and the role played by the UN in this process. By Dr. Elaine Lebon-McGregor.
The opinions expressed here are the authors’ own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.