Academic journal article Competition Forum

Competitiveness of Monarchies and Republics in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region: A Comparative Analysis

Academic journal article Competition Forum

Competitiveness of Monarchies and Republics in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region: A Comparative Analysis

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Although North America and Europe have long held an economic hegemony, we have nonetheless seen other regions develop their own industrial might within the second half of the 20th Century. Asia, for example, has become an economic force since the end of WW2, led initially by Japan, then the four Asian Tigers (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea) and more recently other members of the ASEAN alliance. Together, these economies produced a total GDP of almost $11 trillion in 2012 (CIA World Factbook, 2013). More recently, much attention has been paid to the so -called "BRIC economies" - Brazil, Russia, India, and China (O'Neill, 2001). These four countries have been grouped togeth er due to their similarities: they are all heavily populated, geographically expansive, and are at similar stages of economic development. While not forming a region, per se, "the big four" have become allies, holding annual summits since their inaugural m eeting in 2009 (Halpin, 2009). In 2012, these burgeoning economies combined for a total GDP of about $22 trillion (CIA World Factbook, 2013).

With so much attention paid to the development of Asian and BRIC economies, relatively less focus has been placed on the economic potential of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Housing the ``fertile crescent," the MENA region has long played a significant role in the development of human civilization - home to some of the first human societies, and considered the birthplace of the written word, agriculture, and three of the world's most prominent religions - Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Home to over 500 million people (CIA World Factbook, 2013) spread across almost 15 million KM 2 (CIA World Factbook) at the crossroads of Asia, Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa, the region has the potential to become an economic powerhouse on the world stage. This economic potential is based largely on its oil and natural gas reserves, although the region also plays host to growing financial and high-technology sectors (CIA World Factbook, 2013). While the MENA group has shown economic potential, there remain obstacles in its path to competitiveness on the world stage. It is no secret that the region is steeped in conflict (it was named the least peaceful region by Vision of Humanity in 2012), is rife with economic and social inequality and suffers from institutional shortages. Although 2011's Arab spring saw sweeping political changes across the MENA region, raising expectations, there still remain obstacles to be overcome before those changes can be leveraged into inclusive development and global competitiveness.

With these obstacles in mind, we have formulated a model with the goal of outlining the path to inclusive development (Kiggundu & Smith, 2013). Based on our model, we argue that four freedoms - economic, political, social and environmental - are the cornerstone to inclusive development. These foundational freedoms create the conditions we believe are necessary for a nation (or group of nations, in our case here) to become competitive globally and to achieve the outcomes we consider related to inclusive development (GDP growth, reduced poverty, equitable distribution of wealth, and social harmony, among others). Upon performing an analysis of the Pillars and Problem Factors sections found in the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report (www.weforum.org), we noticed some stark differences with respect to competitiveness based on government type. We found that not only do monarchies appear to be more competitive than do republics, but they also face differing barriers to competitiveness. The main objective of this paper is to assess the overal l competitiveness of the MENA region by comparing and contrasting the competitiveness of the Monarchies and Republics in our sample. In doing so, we hope to identify where the region (as a whole, as well as each group) must improve in order to become competitive on a larger scale. …

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