Press Review July 2013: First Impressions

This press review features the latest publications by UNU-MERIT and its School of Governance, from working papers to policy reports to books, as well as mentions in the media.

Our output for July includes three working papers and two journal articles, covering Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Ethiopia, Morocco, and various European regions. We consider the ‘creative destruction’ of new technologies, capacity building in social businesses, migration from Central Asia and Africa, and higher education rankings. UNU-MERIT also features in a SciDev article, ‘Developing nations hailed as most-efficient innovators’. A young girl walks across rooftops against a scenic backdrop, in Herat, Afghanistan. ‘The influence of vulnerability on migration intentions within the context of Afghanistan’ argues that the difference between voluntary and involuntary movement is not easily distinguishable in an insecure setting like Afghanistan. This working paper considers the issue through the broader lens of household vulnerability, a measure which incorporates a range of socio-economic factors allowing for a more comprehensive analysis. The authors first construct a profile of household vulnerability through individual indicators of deprivation along four dimensions, then perform a regression analysis estimating the influence on migration intentions. Their results provide clear evidence that vulnerable households have a lower likelihood of concrete plans to migrate. By PhD fellow Craig Loschmann and Dr. Melissa Siegel.

‘From Emerging to Submerging Economies: New Policy Challenges for Research and Innovation’  lays out the Schumpeterian process of ‘creative destruction’ linked to the emergence and diffusion of radical, ‘general purpose’ technologies. Published in the Science Technology and Innovation Policy Review, the article argues that emerging countries have benefited from a renewal of societal dynamics, leading to higher levels of economic development and welfare. Doing so they have shown a remarkable capacity in moving upstream in the value chain, from outsourcing of manufacturing activities to autonomous process technology development, product development, design, and applied research. At the same time however, such Schumpeterian processes have now and then turned into exactly opposite processes of ‘destructive creation’. Such processes seem to have become common among what could be called ‘submerging’ economies: innovation only benefitting a few at the expense of many with, as a result, an opposite pattern of a long-term reduction in overall welfare, productivity, and employment growth. By Prof. Luc Soete.

URBANIZATION IN ASIA‘Techological capability building in MNE-related social businesses of less developed countries’  considers the experience of Grameen-Danone Foods in Bangladesh. This working paper argues that there is a scarcity of studies on socially motivated multinational businesses in less developed economies. To fill this gap, the authors examine the issue based on first-hand empirical evidence from Grameen-Danone Foods Limited (GDFL) in Bangladesh. The study found that GDFL generated relevant spillovers to the host economy by accumulating production capabilities in association with innovation capabilities at intermediate levels across four technological functions: project management, process and production organization, product-centred and equipment-related. Beyond revealing the types of frugal and reverse innovations which emanate from such a business, the study also explored the technological benefits generated from a social business model. By Professor Paulo N. Figueiredo et al.

‘The links between economic integration and remittances behaviour of migrants in the Netherlands’ argues that the labour market position of migrants is even more precarious amid the economic downturn in Europe, and that this may influence their economic engagement with their homeland. Based on survey data from the ‘IS Academy, Migration and Development: A World in Motion Project’, this working paper considers first generation migrants in the Netherlands from Afghanistan, Burundi, Ethiopia and Morocco, and explores how their economic integration is related to different aspects of their economic remittances behaviour. The paper concludes that economic integration is positively linked to a propensity to remit and the amount of remittances sent. Moreover, the author shows that especially those with a secure employment status are more likely to remit, remit more, and remit more for investment purposes rather than consumption. By PhD fellow Ozge Bilgili.
Secreatary-General Delievers Keynote Address‘University Systems: Beyond League Tables. Engines of Growth or Ivory Towers?’  aims to provide a more comprehensive and qualitative measurement of national higher education systems than current university rankings. The paper, published in the journal Higher Education Evaluation and Development, considers the quality of the university system at the regional level. This is analysed according to a spectrum of functions: providing the appropriate human capital, promoting social mobility and cohesion, fostering research and innovation, and cooperating with industry and enterprises. This comparative study was carried out using the university-level dataset, drawn from the Feasibility Study for Creating a European University Data Collection (EUMIDA). The authors found a high and significant correlation between university research performance and variables such as territorial competitiveness, labour market efficiency, and the innovation capability of European regions. By affiliated researcher Daniel Vertesy et al.

by Howard Hudson, UNU-MERIT Editor / Communications Coordinator. Images: UN Photo / E.Kanalstein; K.Park; M.Garten