Press Review June 2013: First Impressions

Our internal press review features the latest publications by UNU-MERIT and its School of Governance: from working papers to policy reports to entire books.

Our June output includes a handbook, a PhD thesis and nine working papers, covering half the globe from Canada through Latin America to Western Europe to Iran. We focus on topics including the impact of infrastructure on trade; child deprivation and poverty; location advantages for new multinationals; and microeconometrics for innovative activity.

Innovation for economic performance: The case of Latin American firms’ analysed a raft of indicators to capture the innovation behaviour of manufacturing firms in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region. Using the Enterprise Surveys 2010, this working paper explored differences in innovation performance and effort by country, sector and firm characteristics, such as being a multinational or exporter. The authors identified top R&D performers in LAC and what features they share. By researcher Pluvia Zuniga, PhD fellow Ezequiel Tacsir, et al.

7375813928_6326fd3323_zUsing a ‘Systems’ Perspective to Explain the Limits of ‘New’ Multinational Enterprises: the role of ‘members-only’ location advantages’ stressed the role of institutions in firm development. This working paper found that institutions should be seen as an invisible mesh that envelops, shapes and constrains actors in a given system. However, these actors can themselves – collectively and occasionally individually – be responsible for the nature of institutions. The author found that where governments are unable to upgrade institutions (due to government failure or regulatory capture) it weakens the building block upon which sustainable outward FDI is possible.By affiliated researcher Professor Rajneesh Narula.

‘The Handbook of Innovation Indicators and Measurement’ offers original contributions from world leading experts on innovation indicators. The book focuses on innovation in commercialized products and processes, combining academic and user perspectives from industry and international organizations. It strikes a balance between old and new indicators, and is recommended for scholars studying innovation, for policy makers and for innovation managers in the private sector. See the video below. Edited by Professor Fred Gault.

Microeconometric evidence of financing frictions and innovative activity – a revision’ used Dutch data to empirically test how financing and innovation vary across firm characteristics. This working paper found that R&D slows down when firms face financial constraints but that financing constraints, propensity to innovate, and R&D intensity are not uniform across firm characteristics. Additionally, the authors developed a new ‘control function’ estimator to account for heterogeneity and endogeneity. By Professors Pierre Mohnen and Franz Palm et al.

Child deprivation in Ontario: A (less than perfect) comparison with Europe’ found similarities in child deprivation between Ontario and Belgium, Germany, United Kingdom and (above all) France, but rather different situations in Nordic countries. This working paper suggested that using material deprivation measures would contribute to a better and more nuanced understanding of poverty in Canada. By affiliated researcher Dr. Geranda Notten.

How big is the impact of infrastructure on trade? Evidence from meta-analysis’ quantified the importance of infrastructure for trade via meta-analysis and meta-regression techniques that synthesize various studies. This working paper suggested that an expansion of trade infrastructure may have an attractive return through its impact on the external trade balance. By PhD fellow Guney Celbis et al.

Is money all? Financing versus knowledge and demand constraints to innovation’ looked at systemic failures which hamper firms’ engagement in innovation activities. This working paper found that firms give up on innovation projects due (more or less equally) to financial constraints, the presence of strong competitors and lack of demand. The authors said that policymakers should create a ‘policy platforms’ to embrace competition and macro-economic policy. The empirical analysis was based on an unbalanced panel of firm data from four waves of the UK Community Innovation Survey (CIS) between 2002 and 2010 merged with the UK Business Structure Database. By affiliates Gabriele Pellegrino and Maria Savona.


The end of the multifibre arrangement (MFA) and the heterogeneous performance of quota-constrained countries’ focused on clothing imports of the US and EU-15, two major markets that constitute different lists of quota-constrained countries, QCCs. The working paper found that only a few QCCs have benefited, at the expense not only of the non-quota countries but also fellow QCCs. The author concluded that almost half of the QCCs were better off under the quota regime at least in terms of exports. By researcher Dr. Mulu Gebreeyesus.

Measuring performance: does the assessment depend on the poverty proxy?’ asked if the choice of welfare indicator influences the pro-poorness assessment of an intervention. Using official EU income and material deprivation indicators, this working paper compared the outcomes of three performance indicators for three types of income transfers in six European countries. The author found that income transfers are judged to be more successful when information from indicators is combined. By affiliated researcher Dr. Geranda Notten.

2013-06-25_134436Childhoods embargoed: constructing and reconstructing multidimensional child poverty in Iran examined the (non-)monetary dimensions of child poverty in Iran between 1984 and 2009. This PhD thesis was based on a tri-partite theoretical framework: deprivation from basic needs, social exclusion, and cultural-political construction of childhood. The author addressed the following questions: Who are the poorest of the poor? Where are disparities and how do they change over time? Is it possible to identify patterns of poverty in specific social categories (e.g. girls and ethnic groups)? What are the differences and similarities between certain groups of children?’ By PhD fellow Dr. Sepideh Yousefzadeh.

Foreign direct investment as a driver of industrial development: Why is there so little evidence?’ examined the role of FDI in promoting industrial development. This working paper raised an important question: why, if FDI is such an important avenue to promote development, is their little evidence on concomitant industrial development in most developing countries? The author recommended that policies towards MNEs should be closely linked and integrated with industrial policy. By affiliated researcher Professor Rajneesh Narula.

by Howard Hudson and Sueli Brodin, UNU-MERIT Communications Officers. Images: Flickr / NASA; V.Li Photography; S.Yousefzadeh