LSE research has used its extensive academic knowledge and field experience of civil society structures in the MENA region to inform an international body on how to navigate local business and civil society organisations.
What was the problem?
The MENA region includes the Middle East and North Africa, and it has different cultural, business, and social norms to the West. The LSE Middle East Centre advised UNICEF on how to engage with local business and civil society organisations in the MENA region.
What did we do?
Dr Hertog’s research on state-business relations in the Gulf oil monarchies, as well as local states’ management of civil society, is of great policy relevance to any international bodies that want to engage with local business and civil society organisations – as has been the case with UNICEF. The LSE Middle East Centre advised on these matters through a consulting project under Hertog’s leadership in 2015 to 2016. The project focused on the foreign policy and civil society structures of Gulf monarchies.
Hertog’s research has been conducted continuously since 2006 and is based on both repeat field visits (including to a variety of closed-door and highly exclusive family business conferences in the region) and analysis of written sources in Arabic and English.
Key insights from his research have included the dominant role of the oil-financed Gulf states in shaping associational life (all the way down to financing many “private” charities) and Gulf governments’ and business families’ ambition to appear “modern”. This is done by adopting international forms of civil society organisation, without necessarily buying into the actual practices of what we could consider independent civil society.
The project, to which a number of other LSE-affiliated academics contributed, resulted in a number of policy notes as well as presentations and in-depth policy discussions in London and Amman, Jordan.
Dr Hertog was in charge of managing the papers of other contributors and shaping the overall intellectual agenda of the project. Hertog contributed a paper on the charitable sectors in the Gulf monarchies and the role of public and private players in it, drawing on his own academic work on state-business relations and civil society in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).