Welcome to our first internal press review, featuring the latest publications by UNU-MERIT and its School of Governance: from working papers to policy reports to entire books. Expect more from ‘First Impressions’ at the end of every month.
Our January 2013 edition presents nine new outputs — five working papers, two journal articles and two policy briefs — on issues ranging from green innovation to industrial productivity to diaspora engagement. The geographical scope is vast: from Chile to Costa Rica, China to India, Ethiopia to Syria, Moldova to the Netherlands.
Some birds fly south for winter, driven by the need for warmth and food in milder climates. They face neither physical borders nor restrictions on their movement. The situation for most of humanity, however, is much less straightforward — not least on the fringes of Europe.
The Western Balkans sits on a fault line of ethnic and religious tensions. The histories of Albania and Serbia among others are deeply marked by wars — wars that have sparked waves of migration over the centuries. Yet nowadays migration in and from the region is driven less by political unrest than by mass unemployment, linked in part to the Eurozone crisis.
During a recent trip to Greece, I found the situation there not exactly as they would have us believe. Over the last five years, Western media have been selling us the idea of a failed state, speaking of Athens as a dangerous city with constant outbreaks of crime and disorder. They make sweeping generalizations about the Greeks being corrupt and lazy people, who want only to free-ride off social services provided by the state. I even heard journalists blame the entire euro crisis on Greece, saying that kicking them out of the Eurozone would be a magic solution to the EU’s problems.
All this scaremongering obscures the actual situation of a proud people. The financial crisis afflicting this country has causes far beyond the rate of taxes paid (or not paid) by Greek citizens. First, the aftershocks of the US crisis in 2008 are still being felt not only in Greece but all across the old continent; some say it was the watershed in Wall Street that helped spark the Greek crunch. Second, many experts (including Spanish professor Jose Manuel Serrano) say that Greece’s political and economic suffocation is due to systematic control attempts by foreign governments.
Stunning Cape Town, South Africa, was the venue for our 6th Micro Evidence on Innovation and Development (MEIDE) conference, 21-23 November 2012, held alongside an OECD event on Innovation for Inclusive Development.
Professors Pierre Mohnen and Théophile Azomahou from UNU-MERIT were the main people in charge of this year’s conference. The HSRC Center for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII), based in Cape Town, did a superb job in taking care of the local organization.
The World Bank’s World Development Report 2014 will focus on ‘Managing Risk for Development’. As the Bank frames it in a concept note, “responsible and efficient risk management is crucial not only to reduce the negative impacts of shocks and hazards but also to enable individuals, households, and entrepreneurs to pursue new opportunities for growth and prosperity”.
The recognition of entrepreneurs as a category of agents, whose decisions are influenced by shocks and hazards, is part of a growing recognition of the role, both positive and negative, of entrepreneurs in development – see for instance my 2010 overview paper in the Small Business Economics Journal. One particular risk that entrepreneurs face in most fragile states is that of violent conflict. How can entrepreneurs manage the risk and impacts of violent conflict?