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Technology, Entrepreneurship and Productivity Growth – Where Pakistan stands and where it must go

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The Lahore School of Economics is hosting its Twelfth International Annual Conference on Management of the Pakistan Economy at its Main Burki Campus on  March 30-31, 2016. The theme of this Conference is “Technology, Entrepreneurship and Productivity Growth – Where Pakistan stands and where it must go” and the two-day event will be devoted to discussions on the challenges and constraints faced in accelerating technology and productivity growth in Pakistan.

The first day of the Conference started with welcoming remarks by Dr. Naved Hamid (Professor of Economics and Director, Centre for Research in Economics and Business (CREB), Lahore School of Economics). He remarked that the timing of this year’s Conference fit well with the need of the hour as all the issues the Conference aimed to address are very relevant to the issues confronted by Pakistan’s economy at present.

In his keynote speech, Dr. Bilal U. Haq (Research Professor at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington and at the Sorbonne University, Paris) outlined some of the issues that Pakistan faces that encumber innovation and enterprise. Drawing lessons from international experience, he concluded that scientific research does not always require large investment of funds. In fact, it requires a special mix of encouragement and R&D incentives from the government and industry.

Dr Irfanul Haque (Special Advisor, Finance and Development, South Centre, Geneva) concluded the first session with his presentation on Productivity growth-technology-entrepreneurship nexus: Implications for Pakistan. He discussed the critical importance that innovation plays in economic growth and concluded with a few suggestions on how science and technology can be promoted in Pakistan.

The second session of the Conference focused on Pakistan’s Productivity Performance. The first speaker, Dr Rashid Amjad (Professor of Economics and Director, Graduate Institute of Development Studies, Lahore)and Namra Awais (Research Fellow, Graduate Institute of Development Studies, Lahore) explored the contribution that physical capital, human capital and TFP (total factor productivity) make to labour productivity in the overall economy as well as for agriculture, industry and services over the last 35 years in Pakistan. In conclusion, Dr Amjad highlighted a better-educated and trained workforce to be one of the key factors that can lead to substantial gains in economic performance.

Carrying forward the discussion on Pakistan’s productivity performance, Dr. Matthew McCartney (Director of South Asian Studies; Associate Professor in the Political Economy and Human Development of India, University of Oxford, UK) highlighted the remarkable robustness of GDP growth in Pakistan since the time of independence, despite significant transformation in the structure of its economy. He concluded with a discussion on the historical and comparative productivity performance of Pakistan in the context of successful technological change in South Asia.

The second session concluded with a presentation by Ms. Uzma Afzal (Assistant Professor, Lahore School of Economics) on her co-authored work with Ms. Maha Khan (Teaching Fellow, Lahore School of Economics). Their paper discusses the diversification and technological sophistication of the large-scale manufacturing sector in Pakistan and summarizes that while Pakistan’s exports are more diversified, its total exports show a downward trend as opposed to a rising trend for India. They conclude that, in addition to diversification, the nature of exports is of huge significance.

The third session of the day discussed Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Technological Progress. Dr Waqar Ahmed Wadho (Assistant Professor, Lahore School of Economics) discussed the innovation in the textiles sector of Pakistan, from his co-authored work with Dr Azam Chaudhry (Professor and Dean of Economics, Lahore School of Economics). In a sample of 614 textile manufacturers, they find that innovation is an increasing function of firm size, with the acquisition of newer vintages of equipment being the dominant innovation activity. Lack of funds and high costs of such innovation were found to be the most important factors hampering innovation. Their paper provides a useful analysis of regional variation of technical innovation in the country.

Dr Rajah Rasiah (Professor of International Development at the Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya) spoke on the experience of East Asian Economies in their efforts to promote economic growth. He analysed the different policies in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and other South East Asianother countries to draw important lessons for policy formation in Pakistan.

Dr Hanns Pichler, (Vienna University of Economics and Business, former Senior Schumpeter Fellow, Centre for European Studies, Harvard University, USA) presented his analysis of the innovations in Austrian small and medium enterprises. The Austrian experience has shown that the SMEs are the mainstay of innovation, outperforming larger enterprises in most cases.

Ms. Anum Elahi (Teaching Fellow, Lahore School of Economics) presented the results from her co-authored study with Ms Mahnoor Asif (Teaching Fellow, Lahore School of Economics) on the impact of education, age, gender and ability on entrepreneurial activity in Pakistan. Using the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) data for the years 2010-2012, they find that predominantly, it is technical innovation that results in business creation.

The last session of the day was devoted to discussions on Productivity Differences and the Technological catch-up process in industries of Pakistan. Dr Theresa Chaudhry (Associate Professor, Lahore School Economics) presented her co-authored paper with Ms. Mahvish Faran (Teaching Fellow, Lahore School of Economics). The paper maps the manufacturing process in the denim jean production industry in Pakistan.

Mr. Tariq Raza (Project Coordinator, Centre for Economic Research in Pakistan and Research Assistant, Lahore School of Economics) presented the results from production mapping exercise (co-authored with Dr Azam Chaudhry) conducted on the soccer ball manufacturers in Sialkot. They find that upgrading technology comes a cost that is not justifiable for most small and medium producers in the sector.

Ms. Saba Fazal Firdousi (Teaching Fellow, Lahore School of Economics) presented her analysis from her co-authored work with Dr Azam Chaudhry, on technology adoption in sport gloves manufacturing in Sialkot. They compare different technological processes in the sector and find that technology adoption is positively related to firm profits and retained earnings.

The first day of the Conference concluded with a talk given by Dr Azam Chaudhry, summarizing the findings from production mapping conducted in the aforementioned studies. He highlighted the insights these studies provide into the catch-up process in Pakistan and what implications we can draw for policy formation.

Day 2

More images here

Also in Daily Times, The Nation

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 3/30/2016 03:40:00 PM,

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