What innovative entrepreneurship in the Maghreb region? by Sonia BEN SLIMANE (ESCP Europe)
The latest 2018 Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute (GEDI) which measures the quality and dynamics of entrepreneurship ecosystems at national, regional and global levels shows that Maghreb countries are positioned in the global average of countries with promising growth perspectives. Despite the political instability that the region has underwent in greater or lesser degree, followed by a declining competitiveness due to both the rise of international competition on innovative products and a shift of international foreign investment to Asia and South America, the Maghreb countries continue to follow the global trend and display satisfactory entrepreneurial performance at the global landscape level.
The Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) considers three composite indicators: the attitudes, aspirations and entrepreneurial abilities, in close connection with the pillars of the ecosystems of innovative entrepreneurship. The analysis of indicators for the three countries shows that they share a learning effect linked to the positive impacts of foreign direct investments, which had allowed them developing a technological absorptive capacity above the world average. Indeed, foreign direct investment flows to these countries had increased considerably over the 1990-2010 period, rising from $ 241 million to nearly $ 10,000 million, allocated according to the most local attractive sectors, with a relative focus on Hydrocarbons sector in Algeria. Even though these flows have dropped since that, the learning effect has allowed them to develop a real ability to integrate, use and develop technologically innovative products and processes.
Paradoxically, these countries share the same contextual weaknesses, notably the high risk aversion, the lack of sufficient and effective institutional support for the entrepreneurial activity, the low competitiveness, which affects the ability of companies to compete in international markets. These weaknesses can be explained by the political instability, source of corruption as well as the highly protective policies that inhibit risk taking behavior. This context, rooted in this region, had restricted entrepreneurs reproducing the same development models of investment as in the past in safe and profitable activities that have glorified the first entrepreneurial experiences in the Textile, Real estate, Agri-food and Health. Secondly, this overly protective environment would inhibit the ability of Maghreb companies to innovate and therefore to compete with other companies in international markets and technology sectors.
The thematic issue “Innovative Entrepreneurship in the Maghreb Countries: Towards New Fields of Investigation” of the journal: Marché & Organizations (2018/3, N°33) shows, through the diversity of the selected examples, an overall consistency between these findings and the reality of entrepreneurial activity in the Maghreb countries. The nine contributions of this issue confirm the emergence and the existence of strategic pillars of innovative entrepreneurship ecosystem, particularly the emergence of University entrepreneurship and in technology sectors. They emphasize however on factors hampering the development of this activity: the inefficiency of the institutional stakeholders in charge of resource allocation and coordination, which thereby reinforces the role of the informal network. Finally, they underline the lack of entrepreneurial skills and experience to explain the failure of some entrepreneurial examples.
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