Book Launch: Locked Out of Development: Insiders and Outsiders in Arab Capitalism

Book Launch: Locked Out of Development: Insiders and Outsiders in Arab Capitalism

Tuesday, 21 February 2023 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
Investcorp Lecture Theatre, St. Antony's College
Steffen Hertog, Associate professor of comparative politics, Department of Government, LSE
Dr Neil Ketchley (St. Antony's College)
MEC Seminar


Steffen Hertog is an associate professor of comparative politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His research interests include Gulf politics, Middle East political economy, political violence and radicalization and he has published in journals such as World Politics, British Journal of Political Science, Socio-Economic Review, Review of International Political Economy, Comparative Studies in Society and History, European Journal of Sociology and International Journal of Middle East Studies. His book about Saudi state-building, “Princes, Brokers and Bureaucrats: Oil and State in Saudi Arabia” was published by Cornell University Press in 2011. He is the co-author, with Diego Gambetta, of “Engineers of Jihad: the Curious Connection between Violent Extremism and Education” (with Princeton University Press 2016).


Dr Hertog will present the key arguments of his new short monograph “Locked Out of Development: Insiders and Outsiders in Arab Capitalism” published by Cambridge University Press. The book argues against the received wisdom that neo-liberal reforms are the main culprit explaining slow growth, corruption and inequality across low- to mid-income Arab countries. It instead proposes that it is the uneven presence of the state – over-protecting some while neglecting others – that accounts for the region’s lopsided development and creates deep insider-outsider divides in Arab economies. On the labour market these divides run between protected public sector workers on one hand and precarious workers in the informal private sector on the other; among firms, the divides run between crony insider companies and small, unconnected firms in the informal economy. Uneven state intervention and insider-outsider divisions reinforce each other and together contribute to an equilibrium of weak productivity and skill formation, which in turn deepens insider-outsider divides.

While some of these features are generic to developing countries, others are regionally specific, including the relative importance and historical ambition of the state in the economy and, closely related, the relative size and rigidity of the insider coalitions created through government intervention. Insiders and outsiders exist everywhere, but the divisions are particularly stark, immovable and consequential in the Arab world. They undermine the negotiation of a more equitable social contract between state, business and labour.