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Co-Operating in the Development of Competition Law and Economics Academics in New Jurisdictions

 |  November 9, 2012

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Christopher Townley (King’s College London) and Heba Shahein (Institute of Competition Law) explore Co-Operating in the Development of Competition Law and Economics Academics in New Jurisdictions

ABSTRACT: This chapter is devoted to understanding the difficulties faced by young competition law and economics academics (and those considering becoming competition academics) in new jurisdictions (in this chapter, New Academics). It also asks what can be done to help, in particular, those in poorer countries.

New Academics face myriad difficulties in the developing world. They often include feelings of isolation, a lack of training (in both research and teaching), and limited infrastructure (there may be no broadband access, for example, and libraries can be sparse). So, it is often hard to persuade people to even consider academia as a career choice. It is even harder to generate interest in becoming a competition law and economics academic, partly because these disciplines are often unknown in new jurisdictions, which often means that there are few role models there. We want to help to develop research and teaching in competition law and economics in new jurisdictions. Promoting competition research should enable academics to translate the results of studies carried out elsewhere into their national contexts. We also hope that academics from developing countries will be able to come up with their own original research, which will benefit others as well. The laws developed in the West may be impossible to for new jurisdictions to enforce; but also they need different laws that address different goals. If this is true, greater efforts at translation are needed. In any event, this research should improve the insight into competition problems around the world, as well as feed directly into knowledge-based decision-making in the relevant country. This should bring with it pride and self-reliance, as well as better results. Improving the teaching in developing countries is important too. It gives these researchers a platform for testing and disseminating their ideas. This might be to help policy-makers to improve knowledge-based decision-making. It could also help to educate (future) lawyers, economists, competition authority officials, judges and civil society in general. This should mean that decisions are better and faster. This, in turn, should increase the benefits that competition can bring to these countries.

This chapter is only the start of the conversation. It discusses the management and education literature dealing with the challenges of entering academia (or considering making this leap) in developing countries. This literature enriches the experience and comments of those present at the conference. However, one key weakness of our approach is that papers and experience are tied to specific countries, universities and people. This may limit the relevance of this chapter; discussion of development issues must take into account the people and context in issue. So, before we start, a health warning: more research is needed before we act. There is a history of unsuccessful intervention in this area. Failed schemes raise skepticism in the rich world which can, ultimately, undermine the appetite for trying to help; in the least developed countries, failure can shatter lives and undermine development for years to come.