Exploring informality’s hidden connections in collaboration with the World Economic Forum
Alberica Camerani is a PhD student participating in the Innovative Training Networks “Markets” funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 861034. The ITN “Markets” responds to novel opportunities emerging in post-Soviet spaces by conducting a study on the influence of both formal and informal factors impacting on access to markets in the post-USSR. She is supervised by Dr. Abel Polese (DCU School of Law and Government) and Prof. Brian Harney (DCU Business School):
“Human needs require problem solving. Formal structures, processes & customs can provide some of that problem solving – but not all”
Explaining what informality means to different audiences, and highlighting the nuances of this concept has been one of the hardest challenges in my PhD journey so far. Due to its ubiquitous presence in everyday life, yet volatile nature, giving an actual and comprehensive definition of this term has always seemed quite limiting and complicated at the same time. Thus, I grabbed without hesitation the opportunity to contribute to the World Economic Forum’s Transformation Map on informality. Developed by the World Economic Forum’s Strategic Intelligence platform in collaboration with academia, the transformation maps are excellent tools to visualise in detail global trends and show how they interconnect.
Our team, coordinated by Professor Alena Ledeneva, University College London, presented six key issues underpinning informality, and with the help of Artificial Intelligence showed how these intersect with developments globally, such as migration and governance. For those who have been trying to highlight the embeddedness of informality in human societies, this activity represented a unique opportunity to show in an interactive and visual way its manifestations, representations, and various expressions. Whether you are interested in how informal economies and urban informality are related to workforce and employment, or in exploring family business from the perspective of informality, our Transformation Map on Informality will represent an invaluable resource.
I was glad to partner with the WEF on this important project facilitating the dialogue between academia and policy making. This led to further collaboration enabling me to be included on the World Economic Forum’s Expert Network for the topics of Entrepreneurship, Future of Government and Gender Equality. Unpacking complex concepts such as informality and engaging with policy reinforce the value and potential of my own PhD journey focused on the influence of gendered informal institutions on female entrepreneurship in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia.
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