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WorkShop 14 : Productivity and Innovation in the MENA Region – Mapping Euro-Med Knowledge and Technology Transfer

Twelfth Mediterranean Research Meeting 2011 


Productivity and Innovation in the MENA Region – Mapping Euro-Med Knowledge and Technology Transfer


directed by:

Juliane Brach

University of Copenhagen, Denmark

German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Germany

[email protected]

Rigas Arvanitis

Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, France

American University of Beirut, Lebanon

[email protected]




A major obstacle to economic development in the MENA region is its comparatively low productivity and relatively low degree of international competitiveness. Both hampering factors are closely related to a general lack of technological capacities. Our hypothesis is that MENA countries do not lack talent or entrepreneurial competence, but a systematic transformation of innovative activities into knowledge and products.

This workshop will focus on two main issues that are more or less unexploited: 1) the innovative capabilities of local actors (enterprises, universities and research institutions) and 2) the potential of EU-Med cooperation initiatives in this field. 

This workshop will engage researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds such as economics, social science, engineering and regional studies into a dialogue and discussion on technology, innovation and research capacities in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa. 

Research papers with different perspectives and strongholds such as single country or inter, intra or regional analyses are welcome. Well grounded empirical studies and theoretical contributions with a regional impact will be highly appreciated. The aim of this workshop is to discuss and exchange our views and experiences with applied research in this field and to bring together researchers. Ideally this workshop will help to identify common research interests and trigger future joint projects among the participants as well as contacts at the policy level.


Workshop Description


The workshop will be open to researchers in the area, some of which are already well known, as well as European colleagues interested in the region. One aim is to bring together recent studies  and research projects on innovation, productivity and technology in the Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPC) as well as to take stock of the work of related research networks in the region (such as FEMISE, projects ESTIME and ASBIMED, NEBIP network, ESCWA initiative on technological development, EMIS workgroup in the MIRA platform).

The workshop will also be an opportunity to discuss different theoretical and empirical approaches:  


  • By international organizations, e.g. the KNA-MENA World Bank initiative on a knowledge economy, the latest UNDP-proposal to foster higher education as of the latest UNDP Arab Knowledge Report.
  • By national actors, e.g.  action plans aiming to promote industrial and technology clusters, to  attract more foreign direct investments or to encouraging technology transfers, local innovation, and business activities based on technology.
  • By international research projects and networks, e.g. the proposal to encourage a Euro-Mediterranean Innovation Space (EMIS) or the business networks that have flourished recently linking businesses in the North and South banks of the Mediterranean (such a as ANIMA, Medinnov and others).
  • By individual researchers or research groups, for example studies that are based on innovation surveys or proposals to review of national and international policies and their effectiveness, because policy-making needs more than ever to be confront with empirical evidence and scientific interpretations on its applications.


The workshop directors will contribute the two following papers:
Juliane Brach: “Understanding technology and innovation in the MED-Region – A firm-level approach ”
The productivity and competitiveness of local firms is crucially related to their technological capacities and successful upgrading processes. To this end local firms in the Mediterranean partner countries (MPC) highly depend on foreign technology, mostly developed in the EU. Sustainable economic development in the MPC is thus closely linked to the ability successful refinement and modification of foreign-developed technology.  
This paper presents an analytical framework for an empirically research study on the innovative activities and technology-adaption challenges at firm-level and its application to the local MPC firms. Moreover, methodological issues and experiences related to firm-level survey data collection and analysis will be shared and discussed in order to understand the link between firm-level technology-adaption and innovation processes and economic development in MENA countries.
Rigas Arvanitis: “Is policy effective for developing innovation and technology? A mapping of technology transfer policies”
Most policies oriented towards technological development have been thought of in a top-down fashion and by focusing on the policy offer or the technology offer coming from the public research organizations and universities. Incentive schemes and promotion of technology have been of less interest to companies and generally the business sector seems to respond indirectly to incentives into technological development. Empirical evidence, nonetheless, is scarce and mostly based at the macro-economic level, making impossible any analysis at he micro and regional level corresponding to the setting-up of an innovation system.
The work presented here will be based on an extensive review of policies aimed at technological development in businesses and the economy in Maghreb and Machreq Mediterranean countries. It will rely on the work undertaken by policy-makers in the Euro-Mediterranean policy-exchange platform MIRA (of which he author has been one of its proposers). Finally, the author will confront this empirical material with a more theoretical appraisal aimed at understanding the governance and incentive patterns in the region.

Page last updated on 04 September 2018

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