Why India needs better skills and higher technology

There has been an impressive spurt in the outward foreign direct investment (FDI) activity of Indian Multinational Enterprises since the 1990s, says a recent working paper from UNU-MERIT. But despite the rhetoric, this growth has not been exceptional compared to other similarly developed countries, argues co-author Professor Rajneesh Narula. He recommends a policy emphasis on the manufacturing sector, and within that, promoting a shift from low-tech to higher technology. In answering the questions that follow, Rajneesh provides further details about his area of research and explains the significance of FDI in developing policy.

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Press Review August 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 August includes a book, a book chapter, a policy brief, two journal articles, five working papers, and a research report for the World Bank. We cover skills and technology in India, R&D in China, migration in Moldova, welfare in Kyrgyzstan, diaspora development in Mexico and Argentina, and employment safety nets in Chile, among several other topics. Professor Fred Gault also features in University World News.

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Why ‘degrowth’ redefines riches

August 20th marked a watershed for all humanity: by that date we had used all the natural resources that our earth could replenish in 2013. Since August 21st we’ve been ‘borrowing’ from 2014 — essentially taking from our children and future generations. Not only will we not pay, but next year we’ll carry on consuming ever more of our natural resources faster than the earth can replenish, making this sad ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ fall ever earlier in the year.

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Measuring innovation: the use of indicators in developing policy

The recently published ‘Handbook Of Innovation Indicators And Measurement examines indicators and statistical measurement in the context of innovation.  The book’s success, according to editor Fred Gault, is driven by the fact that the contributors are practitioners in this area; they know from first-hand experience what works and what doesn’t.  In addition, this collection also presents an agenda for the development of the subject and is expected to inform discussions at the next OECD Blue Sky Indicators conference.  

In answering the questions that follow, Fred provides further details about his area of research and explains the significance of innovation indicators in developing policy.

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Taxing times for cross-border workers

The financial crisis has led governments around the world to raise taxes, cut credits, reduce or abolish deductions, and even target pensions. More and more of us are paying higher taxes while seeing a reduction or removal of social benefits. Yet few consider the implications for a large and growing sector of the labour force: migrant workers. PhD fellow Irina Burlacu recently joined a major tax conference in Austria, where she linked the discussions and findings to her own research.

One of the largest conferences in Europe on tax and related laws took place from 4-6 July 2013 in Rust, Austria, under the theme ‘Trends and Players in Tax Policy’. Co-organized by the Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law, Vienna, the WU Global Tax Policy Center, and the Research Council of Norway, the event drew around 100 participants, mainly researchers and practitioners in the area of international and European tax legislation.

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The other side of GPAC²: Kosovo rising

Fellows on our part-time PhD programme (GPAC2) work for governments and international organizations around the world. Their day jobs land them at the centre of events in geopolitical hotspots, meaning they are often better informed than even the best connected journalists. In this new series, we speak with fellows about hot topics and historic events. This time, five years after Kosovo’s independence, we asked PhD fellow Bernard Nikaj about his work in government and how the country is progressing.

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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. Continue reading

The car killed Detroit

4129808416_eb14033725_zGiants also fall. The latest urban disaster took place in Detroit: the former ‘Car Capital of the World’. After the city’s bankruptcy application in July 2013, politicians in Latin America suddenly grew nervous. Our city planners are often inspired by trips to the USA where, speaking what they call fluent English (in Miami, for example), they pick up the ‘latest thinking’ and then turn our cities into replicas of Detroit.

The ‘Paris of the West’ was once an icon of the US urban model. In other words, anything but sustainable. For example, the city killed its public transport system (selling all its trams to Mexico City in the 1950s), while pushing the idea that bloated boat-like cars equal power and freedom. While in Amsterdam, ‘crazy’ youngsters were blocking streets, demanding better cycling infrastructure, in Detroit, they demanded highway extensions. Continue reading

AlumniWatch: From UN Research to EU Policy

For our latest blog, we asked Dr. Daniel Vertesy to share his thoughts on our PhD programme and how it shaped his career. Daniel speaks of his new life working for an EU research centre, the challenges of changing systems, and the importance of staying dynamic.

For many, it is just as surprising to hear that the UN has a University as finding out that the EU has an in-house scientific research centre. Just like the UNU’s research and training institutes located around the world, the various institutes of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) are spread across Europe and deal with a broad range of topics, from nuclear safety to photovoltaics, from deforestation to innovation. At arm’s length from the Brussels machinery, the JRC can be an exciting place for post-docs to get first-hand experience of the interaction between science and policy making at international level.

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Hierarchy: an Obstacle or a Boost to Learning?

Although an increasing number of organisations are developing online training initiatives for their staff, participants’ hierarchical ranks are hardly taken into consideration. Are we all equal when we learn or does hierarchy influence our network behaviour? For his PhD, completed under the supervision of professors Wim Gijselaers and Mien Segers, Martin Rehm undertook research into the impact of hierarchical positions within online Communities of Learning (CoLs).

For Rehm, focusing on CoLs was a natural decision. “As e-Learning project manager at the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance, I was exposed to Communities of Learning without even realising they were called that. I noticed that the assumptions about hierarchy and how hierarchies impact the way people behave and perform were mostly based on intuition, so I decided to research the subject myself.”

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