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Winners for Tomorrow Need More Innovation and More Entrepreneurs: Lessons Learned from Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan

  • Victoria Hill
  • Shahamak Rezaei
  • Driss Mouhtat
Chapter
Part of the Contributions to Management Science book series (MANAGEMENT SC.)

Abstract

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region continues to represent the world’s highest youth (15–24-year-olds) unemployment rate—at 30% in 2017. Youths in the 15–24 age group frequently make up the largest share of the unemployed; each successive year, the “demographic youth bulge” causes the number of youths entering the labour market to be larger than the preceding year; a bloated public sector that is unable to create more jobs; private sector economies that range from dormant to nascent; and public coffers that are largely insufficient to change the youth unemployment dynamic. The youth unemployment dynamic across MENA is frequently singled out as a cause of Arab Spring.

Although MENA is often referred to as a single region, there are roughly three blocks of Arab countries with characteristics more in common with one another than with the region in general. The wealthy Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries form one similar bloc. War-torn countries (e.g. Syria, Yemen, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea/Djibouti, Somalia) form another bloc. Despite some geographic, economic and/or cultural differences, the remaining countries of the third bloc (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia) share more similarities than differences.

The authors selected the three most similar countries from the third bloc—Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia—to study more carefully. Two of the three are very similar, although one is from the Middle East (Jordan) and the other is from North Africa (Morocco). Both of these countries share more similarities than most of the others in the “third bloc”: Both are ruled by young, dynamic and popular constitutional monarchs. In fact, the enormous popularity of both King Mohammed VI and King Abdullah II sets a high standard for any risk from potential electable rivals. Despite the similarities of both of these monarchs, their fathers ruled very differently. Both countries began as protectorates of European powers: France in the case of Morocco and Great Britain in the case of Jordan. King Hassan II (Mohammed VI’s father) ruled, while Morocco was still a French protectorate. He was considerably less enthusiastic about public education than his counterpart, King Hussein of Jordan. These characteristics still affect both countries today; Morocco has lower rates of literacy (69.4%), and Jordan (97.9%) has one of the highest rates compared with world rates [85.4% (Additionally, Tunisia’s rate: 80.2%. All literacy rates from UNESCO Institute for Statistics 2012)]. Under King Hassan II and King Hussein, both countries were members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). But Morocco was in the “Russian camp” and Jordan was in the “American camp”. As with decisions concerning public education, decisions implemented during the early NAM days continue to impact both countries today.

Although Jordan and Morocco share similarities, Tunisia stands out as an anomaly in MENA (Noted most clearly in Tunisia, an Arab Anomaly by Dr. Safwan Masri 2017. The authors are extremely grateful to Dr. Masri for his generosity, kindness and patience in assisting them in using Tunisia as a standard of achievement for comparison with Jordan and Morocco.). Some of the most significant factors that make Tunisia different began in the early nineteenth century. Not only was Tunisia’s path to nationhood and development early; it was unusual in that education propelled its trajectory. While Tunisia’s Arab Spring uprising is frequently cited as a potential model for change across the Arab region, the authors argue that the uprising was a perturbation, a consequence of national leaders deviating from Tunisia’s long and successful upward trajectory. Using both comparative analysis and discourse analysis, the authors identify factors/policies/characteristics that influence the positive development of innovation and entrepreneurship, youth employment and stability in three of MENAs most promising countries.

Keywords

Tunisia/Morocco/Jordan Entrepreneurs/innovation Youth employment Rentier/semi-rentier state IMF World Bank ILO Public–Private Partnerships (PPPs)/PIMA Muslim Brotherhood Islamic education/Western education in MENA 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victoria Hill
    • 1
  • Shahamak Rezaei
    • 2
  • Driss Mouhtat
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Languages and Continuous TrainingMoulay Ismail UniversityMeknesMorocco
  2. 2.Department of Social Sciences and BusinessRoskilde UniversityRoskildeDenmark

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