The Political Economy of State Business Relations and of Growth in the MENA Region (Phase II) - Economic Research Forum (ERF)

The Political Economy of State Business Relations and of Growth in the MENA Region (Phase II)

The Political Economy of State Business Relations and of Growth in the MENA Region (Phase II)

ERF invites affiliates and non-ERF affiliates to submit proposals that enhance the understanding of the political economy of economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The proposals may address any of the following sub-themes or relationships, focusing on a specific country, examining a country over time, or comparing multiple countries in the region, as per the terms outlined below. Quantitative and mixed-methods work are both eligible. Deadline for submissions is extended: July 1, 2017. 
To submit your proposal, please fill in the following form: 
The political economy of state-business relations program has explored, in a first phase, the extent and impact of political privileges received by a few firms, focusing on explaining within-country differences, documenting mechanisms to bestow privileges, and estimating the economic costs of favoritism. Through this work, the particular flavor of Middle Eastern capitalism, compared to forms found elsewhere in the world, has become more apparent, and seems to be more connected with the political function rather than extent of “corruption”. The region’s fragile autocracies are more focused on the exclusion of potential opposition, compared to other regions where the main political goal is to raise political finance. As a result, a broader spectrum of sectors seems to be affected by cronyism in the region, including the important growth sectors, while corruption has tended to be more concentrated in rent-dominated sectors in other regions.
In the second phase of this project, ERF will support new research that sheds light on the relation between power, state, and markets in the Middle East, expanding the work of the first phase in several directions, and in particular, along some of the following sub-themes:

  1. Basic work on state business relations and the political economy of the private sector at the country level, with a special focus on the role of the financial markets, especially in the less researched/understood countries such as Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Jordan, the GCC.
  2. More focused research on the work and effect of institutions that regulate markets, both specific competition laws and anti-monopoly commissions;
  3. Work on the political economy of informality and SMEs;
  4. The political economy of fiscal policies, especially the role of subsidies and other welfare instruments; clientelism and welfare policies and the prospects for a move to universal cash transfer programs;
  5. The political economy of marginalized regions in the periphery;

Proposals on other aspects on the political economy of growth will be taken into consideration. All papers will be matched with an expert mentor to provide feedback throughout the research process. The second phase of this project will be led by Ishac Diwan, Hadi Isfahani and Adeel Malik.


Authors should submit an original proposal of a maximum length of ten double spaced pages [excluding appendices, tables, figures and references]. Proposals should be structured so as to contain sections in the following format. ERF reserves the right to exclude proposals that are not consistent with these guidelines:

  1. Statement of the research problem: A clear and concise description of the nature and importance of the proposed research, its scope and boundaries, its general context, and its objectives, with explicit reference to feasibility and policy relevance.
  2. Value Added: A selective and analytical review of the relevant literature, with a view to both demonstrating knowledge of prior theoretical and empirical work, as well as identifying the knowledge gap that the proposed research seeks to address.
  3. Conceptual Framework and Research Methodology: A clear statement of the conceptual framework should be provided, elaborating on the set of specific, identifiable and concrete questions for which the proposed research intends to answer. This is to be followed by an elaboration of the research methods to be employed and why they are best suited to answer the research questions. This section should also indicate the nature of the information required and the data collection techniques, whether primary or secondary or a combination of the two. Finally, it should explain how the information will be analyzed and interpreted using quantitative and/or qualitative methods.
  4. Deliverables: This section should describe the research products that will be delivered at various stages of the research process.
  5. Time Frame: A clear plan of the timing of all stages of the research project taking into account that all projects have to be completed before March 31, 2018. The timetable must specify due dates of draft and final papers.
  6. Budget: The budget should be submitted in US dollars, itemized and inclusive of all research and dissemination expenses. Research costs should be defined by deliverables. Other budget items may include travel, if necessary, research assistance, data collection, office supplies and photocopying. The purchase of equipment is not allowed under ERF grant rules.
  7. References: A list should be attached to the proposal specifying the suggested references to be used in writing the proposed paper(s).



The proposal should NOT include the authors’ names, as it will undergo a blind review process.

  • Researchers should have expertise in the topic being researched
  • At least one of the main researchers should be from the ERF region, whether residing inside or outside of the region.
  • Researchers from disciplines other than economics may apply.


  • The value added of the project in terms of contribution to existing knowledge.
  • The methodological rigour, be it econometric methods or a qualitative research design for a within or cross-case comparison.
  • Policy relevance of the proposed project.



All proposals and outputs will be peer reviewed. Authors of accepted proposals will be requested to respond to comments of the reviewers.

  • Deadline for submission of proposals: July 1, 2017
  • Announcement of accepted proposals: August 1, 2017
  • Submission of draft papers: December 31, 2017
  • Workshop for discussing draft papers: Winter 2018
  • Submission of final papers: June 1, 2018

To submit your proposal, please fill in the following form:
For queries, please contact Ramage Nada:
You can also check the different Micro Data sets available through the ERF Micro Data Catalogue (NADA):