IDRC paper development workshop or "Nerds at work to find solutions for some big problems" Day 1

So, day 1 of our paper development workshop funded by IDRC - or the Canadian international Development Research Centre (website in English) whose aim is "IDRC funds researchers in the developing world so they can build healthier, more prosperous societies".

There are 25 people here, from 15 MENA countries and Denmark. Many are senior scholars, but there are a few newbies like Dr. Victor and myself, and even a couple PhD students. We have 8 teams of 2-4 researchers per team and each team is looking at a research question on the question of entrepreneurs and the networks they use (e.g. who they ask for advice) and how that influences various aspects of entrepreneurship, e.g. innovativeness of new firms, and how certain "types" of people (e.g. women, youth) use networks in different ways.

We have a lot of data, from a lot of countries - it is from the GEM Reports from 2009 - 2011. GEM stands for the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor - a study of entrepreneurship that enables countries to obtain a portrait of their own "state of affairs" regarding entrepreneurship and who entrepreneurs are and allows countries to compare themselves with others (GEM Consortium home page). Dr. Victor and I are the team for the UAE 2011 Report - you WILL here more of it as the report is closer to publication.

So, enough background, what do 25 researchers do the first time they meet up - you guessed it we TALK! Thomas Schott from Denmark is the coordinator and Nadia Belhaj is the IDRC coordinator. Wow, we are kind of lucky to have the two of them - this workshop began with just an idea a year ago and now we are together - but why....

OK, a few:
  1. Training in doing GEM research
  2. Collaborate and work together across language, cultural and geographical boundaries
  3. Publication

 As you may not know, less than 2% of the published scientific literature is published about or by scholars working in the MENA Region. Not a lot. We really need to support one another to make our footprint bigger - as they did in China, Brazil and what they are starting to do in Africa. Working together makes our research more robust, more relevant and just more interesting - because entrepreneurship research isn't about advancing theory (but we do need to do that to aid in understanding) - it is about studying a phenomenon that could help solve a (if not THE) major issue facing the Arab world today - unemployment (especially youth unemployment) and empowerment of groups who have traditionally had less power (e.g. women).

So, what we learn from the data, will hopefully help policy makers make better, more informed policy - to help solve problems before they become so big there is nothing left to do but clean up the mess.

So, I could go on, but I need to wake up at 6 to have time to have the yummy breakfast at the hotel before an 8 am start - yes, that early :) À demain!

No comments:

Post a Comment