Allan M. Findlay and Ronan Paddison
As in the more advanced nations, retailing in the less-developed countries is structurally both a complex and dynamic activity. The contributions published in this volume illustrate that in a number of ways retailing may be considered to be an even more complex activity to study in the developing countries than elsewhere. The purpose of this final chapter is to synthesise some of the findings which emerge from the volume as a whole, and to seek to establish a research agenda for the future.
In terms of general issues arising from the fifteen preceding chapters there are two areas which merit discussion. First, there are the substantive findings concerning the operation of retail environments in developing countries. Secondly, there are conclusions which can be drawn about the different disciplines interested in the topic and about the potential benefits (and potential difficulties) of carrying out inter-disciplinary research on retailing issues.
Diversity of experience might seem to be the most obvious characteristic emerging from the studies included in this book. That great diversity exists is scarcely surprising given the range in forms of production and of political economy found within the less-developed world. The diversity of retailing is evident, not only in comparing countries, but in contrasting circumstances within specific countries. These range from the case of the modem shopping centre and supermarket in Kuwait, discussed in this book by Al-Otaibi, to the activities of the so-called informal sector described in chapter eight by Rogerson.
The issue on which the reader should focus is not that diversity exists, but what it represents. Levitt (1983) has dismissed regional and national variations in the adoption of western retail institutions, products and