The Economic Research Forum is organizing a workshop on “The Political Economy of the Private Sector in the Middle East,” June 5-6, 2015, in Oxford, UK. The workshop, being held in collaboration with the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, will discuss the first drafts of a number of papers covering various topics related to cronyism in the banking sector and capital markets, corruption in the job market, firm ownership, rules versus deals and public private partnerships, among others.
The event comes in the context of the MENA region’s suffering 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 had 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 first drafts of these papers will be discussed in the workshop.
Over 25 participants are expected to join the workshop. Each session will have two papers. Each speaker will have 20 minutes to present the paper, followed by 10 minutes for each discussant. The remaining time will be for open discussion, giving authors an excellent opportunity to receive feedback on their work from top researchers in the political economy field.