First Impressions: Press Review March 2013

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 March output includes 10 working papers, four journal articles, two PhD theses, and two research reports for the European Commission and United Nations Development Programme. For innovation, topics range from the aerospace industry, to nanotechnology, to R&D patents and productivity. For governance, we look into urban sustainability, economic vulnerability, and communities of learning. Geographically, the focus spreads from Latin America, through Europe and the Arab world, via Singapore to China, drawing on real-world data from more than 160 countries.

Students from the Khan Younis Training Centre in Gaza, run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), test drive a Formula 1-style car they have built, mostly out of recycled parts.Dr. Samia Nour presented five working papers analysing innovation in the Arab world. The first, on ‘Regional systems of innovation in the Arab region’, recommended enhancing institutions of higher education, science and technology to help boost economic development. The second, on ‘Development and social justice: Education, training and health in Sudan’, identified poverty eradication as the key to achieving universal access to primary education, gender equality, and social justice (and thus fulfilment of the second and third UN-MDGs in Sudan by 2015). The third, on ‘The economic importance and impacts of intellectual property rights (IPRs) in Sudan’, found that inadequate IPRs protection in Sudan has contributed to the poor national system of innovation. The fourth, an ‘Overview of the knowledge economy in the Arab region’, concluded that indicators are essential to economic development. The fifth and final paper, on ‘The importance of knowledge at the macro-micro levels in the Arab Gulf countries’, stressed the importance of good education at both the micro and macro levels.

Professor Shyama V. Ramani joined several other researchers for a working paper on ‘Women entrepreneurs in the informal economy: Is formalization the only solution for business sustainability?’ The study found that women are over-represented in the informal economies of India, Palestine, Uganda, Vietnam and Zambia, partly due to their compatibility with women’s needs and existing social norms. The authors argued that policy makers should adopt a ‘closed-loop model of interactions’, as it not only helps female entrepreneurs to succeed but also enables firms to catch up in ‘Base of the Pyramid’ markets. Access the paper here.

Colombian metrocablePhD fellow Carlos Cadena Gaitan joined Drs. Diego Escobar-García and Franzisko García-Orozco for a working paper on the ‘Political determinants and impact analysis of using a cable system as a complement to an urban transport system’. The authors assessed the cable system in Manizales, Colombia, comparing costs with the benefits generated by the system, notably time savings in daily travel. Based on these results, the authors argued that cable systems represent valid urban passenger transport solutions. Download the paper here.

Dr. Franziska Gassmann co-authored a new UNDP report entitled ‘Economic and Social Vulnerability in Georgia’. The research covered more than 4000 households across the country, including persons with disabilities, the displaced, and people living high up in the mountains. The report found that more than 70 per cent of Georgians are vulnerable in one way or another and called for diverse policy measures to respond to their needs. Click here to download the report and to see a brief interview with the lead author.

Researchers Hugo Hollanders 2013IUSand Nordine Es-Sadki produced the  ‘Innovation Union Scoreboard 2013’ for the European Commission’s DG Enterprise and Industry. The report found that EU innovation performance has improved despite the crisis, although the gap between Member States continues to grow. Sweden and Germany lead the rankings, with Romania and Bulgaria bringing up the rear. Drivers of innovation growth include SMEs, universities and  excellent research systems. Click here to download the report and to see the press launch with EU Commissioners Tajani and Geoghegan-Quinn.

Professor Bart Verspagen, Dr. Thomas Ziesemer and PhD fellow Samyukta Bhupatiraju presented the working paper: ‘Summarizing large spatial datasets: Spatial principal components and spatial canonical correlation’. Drawing on data for climate zones, soil conditions and waterway access, the paper proposed a new method for spatial principal components analysis. This, according to the authors, has two major advantages over Wartenberg’s from 1985. First, their approach has a clear and exact interpretation, producing a summary measure that itself has maximum spatial correlation. Second, an easy and intuitive link can be made to canonical correlation analysis. Download the paper here.

PhD fellow Salih Cevikarslan published two working papers based on an evolutionary multi-agent-based modelling approach. The first, on ‘Optimal patent length and patent breadth in an R&D driven market with evolving consumer preferences’, recommended granting broad patents for a limited period of time. The second, on the ‘Heterogeneity in innovation strategies, evolving consumer preferences and market structure’, found that the co-existence of a variety of firms – even with distinct innovation strategies – is viable in the long run.

Sun rising over Singaporean skiesDr. Daniel Vertesy published an article tagged ‘The lion with wings: Innovation system dynamics in the aerospace industry of Singapore’ in the International Journal of Technology and Globalisation. The author found that strong links between industry and government helped to nurture sectoral innovation from the outset. He also concluded that early specialization and close embeddedness allowed Singapore to respond flexibly to crises in the sector and sustain growth. Click here for more details.

Researcher Ad Notten and Dr. Lili Wang joined Alex Surpatean for an article on the ‘Interdisciplinarity of nano research fields: A keyword mining approach’ in Scientometrics.
The article explored the integrative dynamics of five nano research fields, and their results showed how these fields have become more diverse over time. The publication and citation analysis also demonstrated that nano technology has developed to become a relatively mature, standardized and codified technology. Click here for more details.

NASA nano interconnectsProfessor Théophile T. Azomahou joined Drs. Bity Diene and Mbaye Diene for an article on ‘Nonlinearities in productivity growth: A semi-parametric panel analysis’ in the journal Structural Change and Economic Dynamics. The authors presented country panel data from 1998–2008, for both developed and developing countries, to study productivity growth in countries close to the technology frontier. Click here for more details.

Dr. Can Huang joined Professor Yanyun Zhao and Drs. Zhe Qu and Mingqian Zhang for an article on ‘R&D Offshoring, Technology Learning and R&D Effort of Host Country Firms in Emerging Economies’ in the journal Research Policy. Their article put forward a two-stage game-theoretic model, to analyse strategic interaction between R&D decisions of foreign affiliates of multinational enterprises and host country firms. An empirical analysis of more than 12,000 manufacturing firms in the ICT sector in China supported the key contributions of the model. Click here for more details.

Martin Rehm successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled ‘Unified yet separated: Empirical study on the impact of hierarchical positions within communities of learning’. His main focus was the behaviour and performance of participants within organizational training programs. See the video above and the defence images here.

Lilia Stubrin successfully defended her PhD thesis on ‘High Tech Activities in Emerging Countries – A network perspective on the Argentinean Biotech Activity’. She found that the development of biotech activity in Argentina is heavily dependent on local scientific and technological knowledge. Her results highlight the relevance of local competition and firms’ access to information and knowledge capabilities when designing appropriate policy interventions. Download the abstract here and see the defence pictures here.

 by Howard Hudson, Editor / Communications Coordinator at UNU-MERIT.
Images: UN Photo /  J.Melnikiewicz, S.Sarhan; Flickr / D.Hoefler; NASA nanalob; DW / Global Ideas.

2 thoughts on “First Impressions: Press Review March 2013

  1. The above shared information will be useful to those who are working with the UNU-Merit and its school of governance. The video shared by Martin Rehm is god.

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