The Political Economy of the Private Sector in the Middle East Workshop - Economic Research Forum (ERF)

The Political Economy of the Private Sector in the Middle East Workshop

June 05,2015
Oxford, United Kingdom

ERF and the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies jointly organized a workshop on “The Political Economy of the Private Sector in the Middle East”. The workshop convened for 2 days at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies of Oxford University, during June 5-6, 2015.

The MENA region suffers from a fragile private sector that is weakly connected with global markets and thrives largely under state patronage. Although extensive state-business interactions can form the basis for dynamic capitalism, they can also  become sources of insider influence, corruption and other forms of rent-seeking, that distort politics, regulation, judicial functioning and business incentives. In MENA, the system of de facto privileges and restrictions has created a corporate pyramid composed of a small number of connected firms at the top, where competition is muted, and a large base of small firms at the bottom.

Seeing that private sector development has been traditionally viewed through a narrow economic lens, ERF launched a call for proposals on The Political Economy Determinants of Private Sector Dynamism in The ERF Region with an objective to unpack business-state relationships in order to develop a better understanding of the mechanisms used to privilege insiders and to exclude the vast array of firms within the wider political economy framework of various countries, and to assess the broader economic effects of such practices.

The call generated multiple papers covering various topics related to cronyism in banking sector and capital markets, corruption in the job market, firm ownership, rules versus deals and public private partnerships, among others.

To discuss the first drafts of these papers and receive feedback from first class researchers in the field, ERF and the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, a Recognized Independent Centre of the University of Oxford, jointly organized a workshop bringing together the authors of the papers and the top researchers in the political economy filed.

WORKSHOP OBJECTIVES
The objective of the workshop was to provide a platform for discussing the first drafts of the research papers and their findings and to receive feedback from the best experts in the field in order to improve the final output.

AGENDA AND ORGANIZATION
The workshop convened for 2 days at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies of Oxford University, during June 5-6, 2015, gathering around 25-30 participants. Each session had 2 papers. Each speaker had 20 minutes to present the paper, followed by 10 minutes for each discussant. The remaining time was for open discussion.



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