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GSC Invites LSE Professors to present findings on solutions to Kuwait’s “Development Trap”

15 January 2020 to 31 January 2020

Gulf University for Science and Technology’s (GUST) Global Studies Center (GSC) invited Dr. Neil Lee and Professor Simona Iammarino from the Department of Geography and Environment at the London School of Economics (LSE) to give a talk about a research project conducted with the Kuwaiti Institute for Scientific Research (KISR). The project focuses on a crucial problem faced by the Kuwaiti economy as it seeks to diversify: how can the Kuwaiti government support private sector R&D investments?



During the talk, they presented new evidence, based on an in-depth background research and on original surveys of Kuwaiti enterprises, which illustrate the scale of the challenge and the potential interventions which might help Kuwait break and overcome developmental obstacles.    


According to Dr. Lee and Professor Iammarino, long standing academic research has shown that investment in research and development, and innovation is a systemic and interactive process, requiring different actors – e.g. firms, large and small, domestic- and foreign-owned, universities, research and education institutions, and government agencies – to work together and align their objectives. Furthermore, it requires a set of framework conditions encompassing, among other factors, demand for innovation, finance, skills, institutions and social and cultural attitudes.


One of the conclusions of their research is that the reliance of the Kuwaiti economy on oil wealth – with the associated low-risk business culture which discourages uncertain R&D and innovation investments – may imply, in the longer term, the danger of incurring a “development trap”, where incentives to innovation and diversification are locked in for economic activities to continue just as they are. Despite the overall wealth of the country, and its democratic primacy in the GCC region, many of the innovation-enabling conditions are not met in Kuwait, both at the level of single category of actors, and certainly not as a functioning system.


Director of the Global Studies Center, Dr. Shahd Al-Shammari said, “GUST's Global Studies Center continues to be active in providing a platform for researchers to showcase their innovative projects and communicate their findings with the local community. We aim to foster a dialogue between international and local researchers as well as the general public.”


The GSC is a leading research center on global studies, and a vehicle for engaging both internal and external communities through stimulating events and lectures on global issues. The center aims to conduct cutting-edge research on cross-national political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental issues of critical importance, and share research output and information regionally and globally.  The GSC seeks to foster public understanding of global issues with local significance.


GUST continues to build on its mission to become a knowledge-hub that benefits and engages students, academics, and the wider Kuwait community as a whole.  For more information on upcoming events, visit https://gsc.gust.edu.kw/