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

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


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.


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 


  1. Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein, King of Jordan. (2017). Developing human resources and education imperative for Jordan’s progress 15 April 2017. Published by the Royal Court website ( Retrieved May 10, 2018, from
  2. Ainsworth, J. (2013). Sociology of education: An A-to-Z guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Al Jazeera News. (2018). Qatar pledges $500m in economic aid to Jordan 13 June 2018. Published by Al Jazeera News in Doha, Qatar. Retrieved July 23, 2018, from
  4. Aljadid, R. (2018, May 29). Amman ranked most expensive Arab city, 28th worldwide. Jordan Times. Retrieved August 03, 2018, from
  5. Al-Khalidi, S. (2018). Jordan ends bread subsidy, doubling some prices, to help state finances. Published by in United States. Retrieved September 20, 2018, from
  6. Allman, J. (1979) (From Masri 2017: 245). Social mobility, education and development in Tunisia (p. 60). Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  7. Bani Mustafa, A. (2018). Gov’t announces new price list for bread. 08 January 2018. Retrieved August 25, 2018, from
  8. Bessis, S. (1987) (From Masri 2017: 24). Banque mondiale et FMI en Tunisie: Une évolution sur trente ans. Annuaire de l’Afrique du Nord, 26, 140–145.Google Scholar
  9. Central Bank of Tunisia. (2018). Data from the Central Bank of Tunisia website indicates 2016 Tunisian gross domestic product at market prices US$ Bn 84,656 at 31 December 2015, and US$ Bn 90,350.4 31 December 2016. Retrieved July 04, 2018, from,PL203160&la=an.
  10. Cochran, J. (2013) (First published 1986). Education in Egypt. (vol. 1, pp. 44–45). Egypt: Routledge Library Editions.Google Scholar
  11. Cole, K. (2016, September 18). Kid entrepreneurs: Why they embody the American dream. Published by Forbes Magazine; Women at Forbes. New York, NY. Retrieved July 06, 2018, from
  12. DoS. (2018). 18.4% Unemployment rate during the first quarter of 2018. Published in “Press release 1st Quarter 2018 4 June 2018” of the Jordanian Department of Statistics, Amman. Retrieved from
  13. EBRD. (2012). The legal framework for public-private partnerships (PPPs) and concessions in the SEMED region. Authored by Bruno de Cazalet, Senior Counsel, Gide Loyrette Nouel, Paris. Published in EBRD Law in transition online. Paris 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2018, from
  14. EC and DG Enterprise and Industry. (2009). Report of the expert group: Think small first – considering SME interests in policy-making including the application of an ‘SME Test’. Prepared by “national experts nominated by the national authorities of the EU Member States and EFTA/EEA countries within the framework of the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme” and published by the European Commission and Enterprise and Industry Directorate General. March 2009. Brussels. Retrieved April 29, 2018, from
  15. EC/ETF/EIB and OECD. (2014). SME policy index: Implementation of the “Small Business Act” for Europe in the Mediterranean Middle East and North Africa 2014, briefing note. Published on 14 February 2014 by the European Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Training Foundation (ETF) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Brussels and Paris. Retrieved May 01, 2018, from
  16. Embassy of the United States in Rabat, Morocco. (2015 and 2016). Moderate achievement in 2015; Significant achievement in 2016. Published by the United States Department of Labour in Washington, D.C. and distributed through the Embassy in Rabat, Morocco. 2015 Report retrieved June 28, 2018, from US%20Dept%20of%20Labour%20report%20on%20child%20employment%20in%20Morocco.pdf. 2016 Report retrieved June 28, 2018, from
  17. Fanek, F. (2016, November 06). Jordan’s per capita income ‘incorrect’. Jordan Times, Amman. Retrieved April 22, 2018, from
  18. Fanek, F. (2017a, June 11). How not to reduce current expenditure. Jordan Times, Amman. Retrieved August 24, 2018, from
  19. Fanek, F. (2017b, August 13). Public sector still the leader. Jordan Times, Amman. Retrieved July 06, 2018, from
  20. Fanek, F. (2017c, December 10). Features of the new budget Fahed Fanek. Jordan Times, Amman. Retrieved August 24, 2018, from
  21. Fanek, F. (2018, March 04). A new income tax law. Jordan Times, Amman. Retrieved August 23, 2018, from
  22. Freer, C. (2015). Rentier Islamism: The role of the Muslim brotherhood in the Gulf. LSE [London School of Economics] Middle East Centre Paper Series 09, Kuwait, November 2015. Retrieved August 01, 2018, from
  23. Freij, M. (2018, January 28). Bakers launch ‘free bread’ initiative after subsidy lifted. Jordan Times, Amman. Retrieved August 01, 2018, from
  24. Gallup Poll and World Bank. (2010, 2014). Youth job preferences in MENA 2010. World Bank Blogs by Lili Mottaghi and Tobias Lechtenfeld, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  25. GEM. (2018). Basic school entrepreneurial education and training: Most recent data; The extent to which training in creating or managing SMEs is incorporated within the education and training system at primary and secondary levels. Retrieved September 01, 2018, from
  26. Ghazal, M., & Omari, R. (2018, June 03). Protests against tax bill continue for third consecutive day. Jordan Times, Amman. Retrieved August 10, 2018, from
  27. Ghazel, M. (2018a, May 23). Unionists want a ‘freeze’ of income tax bill. Jordan Times, Amman. Retrieved August 03, 2018, from
  28. Ghazel, M. (2018b, June 04 and 06). Moody’s says new tax law vital for Jordan’s credit rating. Jordan Times, Amman. Retrieved October 11, 2018, from
  29. Heyneman, S. (1997). The quality of education in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). International Journal of Educational Development, 17(4), 449–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hill, V. (2018). Personal observations while teaching in Morocco. Jordan and Hungary.Google Scholar
  31. Husseini, R. (2018, March 19). Goldsmiths end strike after meeting with gov’t officials. Jordan Times, Amman. Retrieved from
  32. Ibrahim, A. S., & Banks, J. (2012). Encyclopedia of diversity in education (vol. 1). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 2017 Article IV Consultation—Press Release.Google Scholar
  33. ILO. (2018). ILO modelled youth unemployment data. Retrieved April 6, 2018, from
  34. IMF. (2017a). IMF Jordan Country Report No 17/231, July 2017. IMF, Washington DC. Retrieved April 20, 2017, from
  35. IMF. (2017b). Jordan: IMF Executive Board Concludes 2017 Article IV Consultation July 24, 2017. IMF, Washington DC. Retrieved July 02, 2018, from
  36. IMF. (2017c). Based on data from World Bank Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) and European Investment Bank (EIB). Jordan Public Investment Management Assessment (PIMA), IMF Department: Technical Assistance Report, April 2017, IMF Country Report No. 17/366, released 18 December 2017. Retrieved from
  37. IMF. (2018a). IMF blog, key questions on Tunisia. IMF, Washington DC. Retrieved April 15, 2018, from
  38. IMF. (2018b, June 18). Key questions on Jordan. Updated 18 June 2018. IMF, Washington DC. Retrieved August 25, 2018, from
  39. IMF. (2018c). IMF Jordan At a Glance. Entry from 26 June 2018. IMF, Washington DC. Retrieved June 26, 2018, from Jordan At a Glance. Entry from 07 August 2018. Retrieved August 07, 2018, from
  40. IMF and World Economic Outlook Database. (2017, April). Country reports from Global Competitiveness Index 2017–2018. Retrieved June 27, 2018, Jordan data came from Morocco data came from Tunisia data came from
  41. Institution of Engineering and Technology. (2018). Work experience while job hunting. Retrieved July 06, 2018, from
  42. Jones, M. T. (1982) (From Masri 2017: 244). Educating girls in Tunisia; issues generated by the drive for universal enrollment. In: G. P. Kelly, & C. M. Elliott (Eds.), Women’s education in the third world: Comparative perspectives (p. 32). Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  43. Jordan Department of Statistics. (2018). Jordan population data. Retrieved June 26, 2018, from
  44. Jordan News Agency, Petra. (2018). Petra/Jordan News Agency 03 January 2018: Jordan’s budget deficit in 2017 amounted to JOD750 million (after adding foreign grants). Retrieved July 19, 2018, from; Jordan Times 2018, Retrieved July 19, 2018, from; and “Jordan-Kuwait Bank’s Economic Report 2018” Issue 2681; published by Jordan Kuwait Bank’s Private Banking Unit, Amman, 04 January 2018, Retrieved July 19, 2018, from
  45. Jordan Times. (2017a, April 21). JEDCO, OECD launch $1.3 million SMEs-supporting project. Jordan Times, Amman. Retrieved May 05, 2017, from
  46. Jordan Times. (2017b, August 03). PM receives ‘first of its kind’ national qualifications framework proposal. Retrieved May 10, 2018, from
  47. Jordan Times. (2017c, October 26). Foreign grants slump by around 46% in three quarters. Retrieved July 22, 2018, from
  48. Jordan Times. (2018a, January 14). 190,000 Households apply for financial support after removal of bread subsidy. Retrieved August 25, 2018, from
  49. Jordan Times. (2018b, January 24). Gov’t cancels additional tax on medicines upon Royal directives; Stakeholders praise gesture as relieving vulnerable segments of extra burdens. Retrieved August 03, 2018, from
  50. Jordan Times. (2018c, February 17). Local marches continue across kingdom against price hikes. Retrieved August 25, 2018, from
  51. Jordan Times. (2018d, February 25). Marches against price hikes continue across Kingdom. Retrieved August 03, 2018, from
  52. Jordan Times. (2018e, May 08). Gov’t approves mandating reasons for amended income tax law. Retrieved August 03, 2018, from
  53. Jordan Times. (2018f, May 19). Income tax law amendments aim to limit tax evasion, expand taxpayers base. Retrieved August 03, 2018, from
  54. Jordan Times. (2018g, May 22). Cabinet finalises income tax bill after ‘taking feedback into account’. Retrieved August 03, 2018, from
  55. Jordan Times. (2018h, May 26). Professional associations call for strike in protest against new income tax law. Retrieved August 08, 2018, from
  56. Jordan Times. (2018i, June 04). Unemployment rises to 18.4% in first quarter of 2018. Retrieved August 10, 2018, from
  57. Jordan Times. (2018j, June 05). King tasks Razzaz with forming new government. Retrieved August 10, 2018, from
  58. Jordan Times. (2018k, June 08). Budget deficit JD378m stand at in first third, debts up. Retrieved June 08, 2018, from
  59. Jordan Times. (2018l, September 28). Qatar hires 1,500 Jordanians under aid plan. Retrieved October 12, 2018, from
  60. Lin, J. Y. (2012). Youth bulge: A demographic dividend or a demographic bomb in developing countries? World Bank’s Let’s Talk Development; 5 December 2012. Washington. Retrieved April 03, 2018, from
  61. Lulat, Y. G. M. (2005) (From Masri 2017: 244). A history of African higher education from antiquity to the present: a critical synthesis. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.Google Scholar
  62. Masri, S. (2017). Tunisia; An Arab anomaly. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Ministry of Education. (2018). Education system in Jordan. List of educational objectives for primary and secondary education. Retrieved April 03, 2018, from
  64. Ministry of Finance and USAID. (2017–2018). Fiscal decentralization in Jordan; Strengthening the role of governorates in improving public services. Retrieved July 28, 2018, from
  65. Ministry of Finance Morocco. (2016). GDP current prices in millions of Dirham = 1,016,119 or US$895,994 Billion. Retrieved July 04, 2018, from; GDP at current prices.
  66. Ministry of Finance Morocco. (2018). Social indicator demographic. Retrieved June 27, 2018, from
  67. Namrouqa, H. (2018a, March 06). Farmers vow to continue protests after meeting with government ends in deadlock. Jordan Times, Amman. Retrieved from
  68. Namrouqa, H. (2018b, March 18). Farmers suspend strike following gov’t pledges to meet demands. Jordan Times, Amman. Retrieved from
  69. Oanda. (2018). Currency controls. Retrieved April 15, 2018, from
  70. Obeidat, T. (2016) (From Masri 2017: 271). Ashmal wa aham dirasa tahliliyya: “al-da’ishiyya” fi al manahij wa al-kutub al-madrasiyya al-urduniyya. [A comprehensive and important analytical study: “ISIS” in the Jordanian curriculum and textbooks].
  71. OECD/The European Commission/The European Training Foundation. (2014). Key findings for the Mediterranean Middle East and North Africa region. In: SME policy index: The Mediterranean Middle East and North Africa 2014: Implementation of the small business act for Europe. Published 23 September 2014. Paris: OECD Publishing. Retrieved May 05, 2018, from
  72. Omari, R. and Petra. (2018, June 04). Parliament seeks extraordinary session to end tax law crisis. Jordan Times, Amman. Retrieved August 10, 2018, from
  73. Omari, R. (2018a, January 28). MPs seek exclusive power to set tax caps, make ‘binding’ recommendations. Jordan Times, Amman. Retrieved August 27, 2018, from
  74. Omari, R. (2018b, March 11). Gov’t turns down MPs’ request for power to decide tax cap. Jordan Times, Amman. Retrieved August 25, 2018, from
  75. Ossowski, R. (2007, October 30–31). Budgeting for public-private partnerships. Conference paper at symposium on evaluating innovative approaches to public service delivery. Held by OECD Working Party of Senior Budget Officials, Madrid.Google Scholar
  76. Razzaz, O. (2013a). The Rentier state. UN Arab Human Development Report 2016, New York (p. 30, Box 1.3).Google Scholar
  77. Razzaz, O. (2013b). The treacherous path towards a new Arab social contract. Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, American University of Beirut, November 2013.Google Scholar
  78. Rocha, R., et al. (2011). The status of bank lending to SMEs in the Middle East and North Africa region: The results of a joint survey of the Union of Arab Bank and World Bank. World bank policy research working paper series, World Bank, Washington DC.Google Scholar
  79. Statistiques Tunisie. (2018). Population au 1er Juillet (per year). Retrieved June 27, 2018, from
  80. The Guardian. (2018, July 9). Carillion collapse exposed government outsourcing flaws – report. Written by Graeme Wearden. U.K. Retrieved July 25, 2018, from
  81. UNDP. (2016). Arab human development report 2016; Youth and the prospects for human development in a changing reality. Published by United Nations Development Programme, New York.Google Scholar
  82. UNESCO. (2016). Statistics on children’s work and education. Data from 2014, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2016. Retrieved June 29, 2018, from
  83. United Nations and World Bank. (2018). High-technology exports (% of manufactured exports). Comtrade database through the WITS platform. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from
  84. United States Department of Labour. (2016). Findings on the Worst forms of child labour in Tunisia. Published by the Department of Labour’s Bureau of International Affairs, Washington, DC. Retrieved June 29, 2018, from
  85. University of Jordan CSS and ILO. (2017). Jordan national child labour survey 2016 and analytical report of the fundamentals principles and rights at work (fundamentals). Published by University of Jordan Centre for Strategic Studies (CSS) Amman, Jordan and International Labour Organization (ILO) Geneva, Switzerland. 11 October 2017. Retrieved June 28, 2018, from
  86. Vasil’ev, A. (2018). Russia’s Middle East policy: From Lenin to Putin. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  87. World Bank. (1999) (From Masri 2017: 280). Education in the Middle East and North Africa: A strategy towards learning for development: 6. Washington DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  88. World Bank. (2012). Governance and public sector employment in the Middle East and North Africa. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from
  89. World Bank. (2014) (From Masri 2017: 35). The unfinished revolution: Bringing opportunity, good jobs, and greater wealth to all Tunisians (pp. 84, 111). Washington DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  90. World Bank. (2016a) (From Masri 2017: 244). Expenditure on education as a % of total government expenditure: Tunisia (1997–2012). World Bank. Retrieved August 11, 2016, from
  91. World Bank, et al. (2016b). World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), European Investment Bank (EIB) and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) 2016. What’s holding back the private sector in MENA? Lessons from the enterprise survey. EBRD/London, EIB/Luxembourg, IBRD and World Bank/Washington, D.C. The World Bank. License: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0 IGO.Google Scholar
  92. World Bank. (2018a). Jordan population and GDP per capita; 1960 through 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2018, from
  93. World Bank. (2018b). Tunisian national data for youth unemployment. Retrieved April 05, 2018, from
  94. World Bank. (2018c). Tunisian, Moroccan and Jordanian national data for youth unemployment. Retrieved April 20, 2018, from
  95. World Bank National Accounts data and OECD National Accounts data files. (2018). Tunisian, Moroccan and Jordanian GDP per capita growth 1990 through 2016. World Development Indicators, 1 March 2018. Retrieved April 27, 2018, from
  96. World Economic Forum. (2017). The global competitiveness report 2017–2018. Published 26 September 2017 WEF, Geneva. Retrieved June 27, 2018, from

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

Personalised recommendations