Press Review May 2013: First Impressions

Welcome to our monthly internal press review, featuring the latest publications by UNU-MERIT and its School of Governance: from working papers to policy reports to entire books.

Our May output includes four working papers, four journal articles, two policy briefs, one book, a report chapter, and a comparison paper. These cover much of the globe: from Brazil and Ecuador, through South Africa, Sudan and Tanzania, to Afghanistan and Bangladesh — on topics such as managing technological change, responding to economic crises, building resilience to natural disasters, and upgrading social protection schemes.

Women in a training centre for traditional handicrafts, a project that is assisted by the United Nations Development Programme. Dr. Micheline Goedhuys joined Professors Norbert Janz and Prof. Pierre Mohnen for an article entitled ‘Knowledge-based productivity in “low-tech” industries: evidence from firms in developing countries’ in the Journal Industrial and Corporate Change. Using firm-level data from five developing countries – Brazil, Ecuador, South Africa, Tanzania, and Bangladesh – and three industries – food processing, textiles, and the garments and leather products – the authors examined the importance of various sources of knowledge for explaining productivity and analysed how sector- or country-specific characteristics dominate these relationships. Click here for more information.

The latest IS Academy Policy Brief, co-authored by Dr Melissa Siegel and researcher Katie Kuschminder, focuses on the complexities and challenges associated with Afghan migration, as debated during a workshop sponsored by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Brussels on 8-9 April 2013. The event gathered academics and civil society practitioners with policy makers to debate on migration and development issues and to recognize the importance of Afghan migration as a key process shaping interactions between the EU and Afghanistan. Click for more information.

Three young girls in the Bam Sarai village in Bamyan province prepare for exams as part of an effort in which UNICEF and the Government of Afghanistan aim to increase girls' primary school attendance by 20 percent

Professors Jacques Mairesse and Pierre Mohnen joined Raymond Wladimir and Franz Palm for the working paper ‘Dynamic models of R&D, innovation and productivity: Panel data evidence for Dutch and French manufacturing’. For decades, R&D and innovation have been recognized by scholars and policy makers as major drivers of country, industry and firm economic performance. However, many of the early studies are based on cross-sectional data and do not take into account the dynamic linkages between innovation and economic performance or unobserved firm heterogeneity. Using data from three waves of the Community Innovation Survey (CIS) for France and the Netherlands, the authors provide evidence of a one-way causality from innovation to productivity. Click here for more details.

Project coordinator Elaine McGregor co-authored a paper on ‘Civic Integration and Forced Marriage’ as part of an international exchange project set up by the Dutch Government. Through working visits and meetings, the project develops networks for information exchange between policy experts working on issues of civic integration and forced marriage in the Netherlands, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. The comparison paper gathers discussion points and findings that emerged from the initiative. Click here for more details.

Association pour la Promotion de l’Autonomie et des Droits de la Fille/Femme (APAD) promotes the rights and autonomy of young mothers and survivors of early and forced marriage in Maroua, Cameroon.

PhD fellow Clovis Freire Junior joined several other researchers for the article ‘Euro zone debt crisis: Scenario analysis and implications for developing Asia-Pacific’ in the Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy. The article gives quantitative estimates of the potential impact of the euro zone debt crisis on merchandise exports as well as on economic growth and poverty reduction efforts in the Asia-Pacific region. The authors show that macroeconomic policy space appears adequate in most economies which tend to be more heavily affected by the euro zone debt crisis. However, strong inflationary pressures and less favourable public debt conditions may prevent some economies from implementing swift and robust macroeconomic policy responses. Click here for more details.

PhD fellow Clovis Freire Junior wrote the first chapter in the report ‘Theme Study on Building Resilience to Natural Disasters and Major Economic Crises’. The author gives a working definition of resilience and how it represents a complex task involving a large number of economic, social and environmental interconnected systems. He argues that people, organizations and institutions must address problems as parts of an overall system, rather than separately, and develop the ability to reconfigure and redesign policies able to cope with multiple shocks. Click here for more details.

UN Timor Mission Delivers Rice Bags to Areas Cut Off by Flooding

PhD fellow Robert Bauchmüller presented a working paper on ‘Centre-based versus home-based childcare’. Using various tests to gauge the impact of centre‐based childcare on child development, such as ordinary least square estimates, instrumental variable estimates and structural equations modelling, Bauchmüller observed an absence of significant results to support the significant short‐term effects of centre‐based childcare stated in the existing literature. Click here for more details. The paper was linked to his PhD dissertation, which he successfully defended on 23 May 2013.

Professor Shyama V. Ramani co-authored the latest UNU-MERIT Policy Brief on ‘Women in the Informal Economy. Focusing on female workers and entrepreneurs in the global informal economy, the brief examines a range of governance experiments from Latin America to Sub-Saharan Africa, covering both top-down and bottom-up initiatives, and considers ways to improve the sustainability of women-owned businesses. The authors find that many top-down actions are only effective in gender-neutral development programmes. They also conclude that successful women role models are often the best agents for sweeping change. Click here for more information.

Women gather in Paynesville, a district of Monrovia, Liberia, to attend a Thanksgiving event, sponsored by the national Ministry of Gender and Development and UN Women, in honour of Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

PhD fellows Cécile Cherrier and Andrés Mideros Mora, Dr. Franziska Gassmann, and Professor Pierre Mohnen published a working paper ‘Making the investment case for social protection. Methodological challenges with lessons learnt from a recent study in Cambodia’. The paper takes stock of the main experiences and unpacks common questions linked to the promotion and design of non-contributory social protection policies and programmes in developing countries. The authors conclude that different methodologies can be used for ex-ante analyses of social protection interventions, depending on the objectives of the study, but that there is no single methodology to answer all questions. Their research also shows that although ex-ante cost analyses can influence policy makers, early involvement and follow up is needed to guarantee implementation. Click here to read the paper.

Dr. Micheline Goedhuys co-authored an article on ‘The impact of international standards certification on the performance of firms in less developed countries’ in the Journal World Development. The paper examines the effects of international standards certification (ISC) on both productivity and sales performance for firms from a wide set of countries exhibiting different degrees of institutional development. Using a large dataset of manufacturing firms operating in 59 countries, the researchers found that ISC raises productivity and sales performance of firms through efficiency gains and quality signaling, with the effects being larger in countries where market supporting institutions are weak. Their findings provide new and original micro evidence of ISC effects on performance that were difficult to test at the macro level or that, as a consequence of aggregation, resulted in mixed evidence. Click here for more information.

Students of the Faculty of Technology Science of the University of El Geneina, West Darfur, work at the computer lab sponsored by UNAMID as a Quick Impact Project in 2011

Researcher Samia S. O. M. Nour published a book entitled ‘Technological Change and Skill Development in Sudan’. Covering case studies from Sudan in the regional and international literature, the book uses new primary data to make a macro and micro level empirical analysis of skill development and technological change in the country. It recommends the implementation of consistent policies, and to increase incentives and collaboration between public and private institutions. Click here for more information. Dr. Nour also published articles in the ‘African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development‘ (Vol. 5, No. 1) and the ‘Journal of the Knowledge Economy‘ (Vol. 4, No. 2).

Dr. Semih Akçomak teamed up with Erdal Akdeve and Derya Fındık for the working paper ‘How do ICT firms in Turkey manage innovation? Diversity in expertise versus diversity in markets’. Using a novel taxonomy of firms based on specialization versus diversification in production and markets in Turkey, the authors analysed the innovation management strategies of ICT firms in Ankara. They found that firms’ management of innovation is significantly affected by where they are on the specialization-diversification spectrum. The study recommends the design of new policy tools to encourage cooperation between firms, as well as education policies to stimulate team-working skills.  Click here for more details.

by Sueli Brodin and Howard HudsonUNU-MERIT Communications Officers. Images: UN Photo / W. Wild; S.Noorani; M.Perrett; S. Winter; S. González Farran; Flickr / International Women’s Health Coalition