Vol 3 (2018)

Research in Emerging Markets

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.26481/marble.2018.v3

Emerging Markets is a new, multi-disciplinary specialisation at Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics. This specialization has been developed to address topics that managers and economic analysts face in rapidly developing countries. The students who are selected for this specialization are trained to look for market opportunities and develop operational business knowledge for emerging markets, but also to analyze these markets from economic and societal points of view. The students retain the core learning goals of the regular bachelor’s programmes in business or economics, but additional learning goals associated with the context of emerging markets are added.
A core component of this programme is a mandatory six-month internship in an emerging economy. The internships range from multinational companies to startups in the private sector, and from non-governmental organizations to research institutes and governmental agencies in the public and non-profit sectors. During the internship, the students also choose the focus of their bachelor thesis, and independently carry out the thesis research as well as the writing of the thesis. All of this is done in parallel with the internship work. The topic of the thesis builds on, or in some other way be related to, the content of the internship. In addition, the thesis stimulates the students to revisit the content of their academic curriculum, including courses on institutional development and political economy, innovation management, finance for emerging markets and international economic relations.
Three theses were chosen for this series from the first cohort of Emerging Markets students. 
Till Folger, also studies the interactions between China and other emerging markets, though in his thesis the focus is on the impact of Chinese economic activity in Africa. (He did his internship at a Portuguese consulting firm operating in Guinea-Bissau, where the bulk of his internship took place.) His thesis was composed of a combination of quantitative research and a case study on Guinea-Bissau. The findings, not unlike the results of Antonia Ramm, suggest that natural resources might not be as important to China as they are often thought to be. Furthermore, his findings indicate that China, again contrary to commonly held expectations, might in fact prefer to invest in democratic nations.

Antonia Ramm, who did her internship at an economic development firm in Ecuador, wrote a thesis focused on the growing importance of China in Latin American economies. More specifically, she examines the underlying determinants of Chinese foreign finance allocation in Latin America through both a quantitative study and a case study on Ecuador. Her results do not lend general support to the popular hypotheses of resource-driven or power-driven Chinese aid allocation. That said, for certain types of financing natural resource endowments do turn out to be a driving factor in the allocation of funds, in line with expectations about return-oriented investments.

Finally, Jan Werner, who did his internship at the financial office of a German multinational company in Malaysia, takes on an entirely different topic in his thesis: Islamic finance. He examines the factors that influence the price sensitivity of customers in the vehicle financing market in Muslim countries, and concludes that the way of practicing religion, and knowledge about Islamic finance, are crucial determinants of the uptake and price sensitivity of various financial products.
These three students distinguished themselves in several ways. In particular, they all performed excellently during their internships, they showed deep intellectual curiosity during both their internship and their thesis work, they developed their thesis topics independently and managed to link the topics to their internships in interesting ways, they carried out their thesis work diligently. They put significant effort and creativity into acquiring new methodological skills that turned out to be necessary in order to carry out their research. Taken together, this all makes them great examples for future cohorts of Emerging Markets (and other) students to emulate.

Kaj Thomsson
Emerging Markets Coordinator

Table of Contents


Till Folger
Antonia Simone Ramm
Jan Werner