News & Highlights

  • OCTOBER 2019

A Discussion on Social Safety with Professor Nien-hê Hsieh

On October 8th and 9th, the MENA Research Center, in collaboration with the HBS Clubs of Lebanon and Turkey, welcomed Professor Nien-hê Hsieh, Professor of Business Administration and Joseph L. Rice, III Faculty Fellow, to Beirut and Istanbul. Professor Hsieh presented his latest research on the topic of societal safety. He posed a very important question, “We ask businesses to be safe for consumers and for workers, but what about for society? Professor Hsieh led interactive discussions with 50 alumni and friends of the school.
  • JULY 2019

MBA Voices: A Lebanese Student’s Experience—Meet Yazan Halwani, MBA Class of 2020

MBA Voices is Harvard Business School’s admissions blog. A collection of community perspectives on the blog provide prospective students with insight into life at HBS. In this interview, Lebanese student Yazan Halwani, MBA 2020, explains his journey to become one of the applicants admitted to the school.
  • MAY 2019

Senior Executive Leadership Program – Middle East (SELPME)

Amr Habis, Deputy Secretary-general of Olayan Financing Company, shares his experience as a participant in the Senior Executive Leadership Program—Middle East (SELPME). While on the Harvard Business School (HBS) campus for the program's first module, Amr explains how the SELPME experience has already accelerated his leadership development—and revealed strategies for developing his team as well. SELPME is a business management program that aims to help individuals become strong leaders who can deliver value in a global context. The program is taught in a series of modules offered in Boston and Dubai.
  • MAY 2019

HBS Alumni & Friends Gathering with Professor Christina R. Wing in Istanbul, Turkey

On May 29th, 2019 the MENA Research Center hosted an event with Professor Christina Wing, Senior Lecturer specializing on Families in Business. Over 50 HBS alumni and friends of the School attended, and the event presented an opportunity for HBS alumni and recently admitted students to engage in conversations with each other and Professor Wing. HBS looks forward to welcoming the recently admitted students to campus in the upcoming months.

New Research on the Region

  • 2019
  • Book

Business, Ethics and Institutions: The Evolution of Turkish Capitalism in Global Perspectives

By: Asli M. Colpan and G. Jones

This book is the first systematic scholarly study on the business history of Turkey and its predecessor the Ottoman Empire from the nineteenth century until the present. It places the distinctive characteristics of capitalism in Turkey within a global and comparative perspective, addressing three related issues. First, it examines the institutional context that shaped capitalist development in Turkey. Second, it focuses on the corporate actors, entrepreneurs, and business enterprises that have led national economic growth. Third, it explores the ethical foundations and social responsibility of business enterprises in Turkey.

  • 2019
  • Book Chapter

Ethical Business, Corruption and Economic Development in Comparative Perspective

By: Janet Hunter and G. Jones

This chapter contextualises the drivers of corruption in Turkish business through comparisons with Japan in the late nineteenth century, and India. It identifies the developmental state as a common driver of corruption. Catching-up by using extensive state intervention had the major downside that it has served to facilitate corruption.The operation of the developmental state may have been constrained by factors beyond the control of the state, such as shortage of funds or external pressures. Yet it is apparent that the individual measures that made up the overall strategy of the developmental state are not only vulnerable to exploitation by those who are involved in their implementation, but can positively encourage such manipulation. The example of nineteenth century Meiji Japan suggests the building of inclusive political and economic institutions, and consequent trust levels, can help address the problem, but it also suggests that old habits die hard, and that respect for the state and its institutions is something that cannot be taken for granted. The fact that some places, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, were able in recent decades to roll back corrupt practices is less comforting for Turkey. Turkey like India, has not yet taken the necessary steps needed to disrupt corrupt practices. However the chapter also explores the many uncertainties around the issue of corruption. The very term corruption is ambiguous, because there are many grey areas that result from variations in cultural norms. The existence of corruption also appears to not stop development. It did not stop Japan’s economic growth over the long-term. It has not stopped India’s rapid growth in recent decades, which appears, if anything, as correlated with growing corruption rates since the 1970s. It would appear, though, that the more extractive the institutions of a society, and the fewer the countervailing forces of productive business enterprise, the more potential there is for negative outcomes. In the case of Turkey, corruption has not prevented significant economic growth, but it also had negative consequences, such as poor quality building construction, and distortions, such as helping one sector of the business community grow at the expense of others. Its prevalence maybe part of the explanation why Turkey has struggled to build innovative businesses able to drive forward the development of the country and break out of the middle-income trap.

  • 2019
  • Book Chapter

Business, Ethics and Institutions. The Evolution of Turkish Capitalism in a Comparative Perspective

By: Asli M. Colpan and G. Jones

This chapter offfers a survey of the evolution of Turkish capitalism from the nineteenth century Ottoman Empire until the present day. It shows that Turkish business over the last century and a half was shaped in an institutional context similar to those in many developing countries. The country missed out on the first wave of modern industrialization during the Ottoman era, and developed in a somewhat skewed way, with minority religious and ethnic groups dominating business, in part because of policies imposed by the Western powers. As in many developing countries, business in the Ottoman Empire faced the daunting task of catching up with the developed West. Unlike most other countries, however, the elimination of entrepreneurial minority groups including Armenians and Greeks greatly complicated the task, and gave it distinct characteristics. At the center of this distinctiveness was the role of the government in the early Turkish Republic, which pursued a nationalistic and secular agenda in a Muslim country. Turkish business (in contrast to, say, that of India) grew in an insular fashion, largely unable to develop strong international competitive advantages compared to some of its South Asian and Latin American counterparts. Turkey’s business groups were, as elsewhere, a response to institutional voids and the importance of contact capabilities but even the best of them remained primarily focused on the domestic market, and mostly functioned as licensors of foreign technologies rather than as drivers of innovation. The last three decades have seen a remarkable development as long-established business groups faced a new set of challenges from the provincial towns of Anatolia, which are characterized by their religious beliefs and links to political Islam. They created their own associations and utilized institutions that have roots in traditional Islamic and Ottoman history, such as the vakif, to raise capital. Strikingly, this sector of the business community appears more resilient and responsive to the global economy than do their secular counterparts. Anatolian capitalism has thus become a source of renewal and growth for the Turkish economy, albeit one in which persistent problems of corruption and rent-seeking have appeared in new forms.

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Istanbul Staff

Esel Çekin
Executive Director
Youssef Abdel Aal
Research Associate
Yasemin Çağlar
Educational Programs Manager
Zeynep Mağgönül
Office Manager
Gamze Yücaoğlu
Assistant Director, Research

Dubai Staff

Alpana Thapar
Assistant Director, MENA Region

Tel Aviv Staff

Danielle Golan
Assistant Director