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Doctors/Dr. HIRSH Zamira Pode

Dr. HIRSH Zamira Pode

My experience with European and international institutions (OSCE, EU, NATO, USAID and Luxembourgish Institute of European and International Studies), with academic institutions, then my education/diplomas, following a position of collaborator with the Department of Foreign Affairs testify to my diverse experience.

Holder of a Master's degree (Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées in Paris / France) and a Doctorate degree (Business Science Institute / Luxembourg, I acquired solid knowledge in macroeconomic and political domains.

The title of my thesis was: "From business hibernation to regional cooperation in the western Balkans", under the supervision of Pr. Sébastien Liarte.


From business hibernation to regional cooperation in the western Balkans.

The research aims to explore if the regional economic initiative of cooperation is the right development tool for SMEs in both Albania and other countries in Western Balkans. It is done based on two different questionnaires (first explores the strength of private sector to cope with regional cooperation and second assess the perception of stakeholders in six countries if they see a future together if regional cooperation is put in place in Balkans). This is one-way road by which those countries in the region aspire towards European Integration. The conclusion of this paper is that Albania has much work to do in boosting micro firms, which represent 94% of business community, to reach same level of performance customary in the neighboring countries. Internal factors (poor economic conditions, lack of innovation, old technology, low skills, etc...) and external factors (global recession) have slowed the speed especially of development. The rhythm of progress, as a matter of fact, is slow, but at least, it is encouraging to overcome regional and global crisis. Albanian economy has undergone different development periods after the fall of communist system in 1990 (first was transition 1990-2000; second was post transition 2000- 2010; and finally, the third is recovery and development 2010-2020). The third decade is subject of this study, from which the concept of hibernation is derived as an outstanding feature. This is a circumstance that micro SMEs in Albania comport, comparable to behavior of living organisms to protect themselves under adverse weather conditions, while surviving from unfavorable business constrains. Hibernation of business is a temporarily phase of adaptation to safe their reserve till hard time is over. In this case, hibernation period felt from 2013 to 2015, then after recovery, the firms continued normally their rhythm. Struggling to rejoin the EU family has encouraged the government to conduct structural reforms to all sectors, that improved growth rate and contributed to GDP, but adjustments have created constraints for micro SMEs. Adapting, modifying and inspiring of micro firms to fit into new governmental policy, while struggling to keep piece in Balkans and implementing regional cooperation, are the final conclusions. Experience gained domestically between two parties (firms and government) would be the nucleus of aspiration to develop the final goal towards EU integration. This research identifies advantages and disadvantages of private sector, the internal and external factors, on how to measure the strength of micro firms in order to be able in coping with regional and global challenges.

Regional countries in Balkans agree to cooperate, however, notions of competition, regionalism and together with perfectionism would increase the fears of rivalry by small countries. Serbia is a big country and it is known for its business tradition as well as it has a brand name about governmental policies compared to other nations in Balkans. The diagram can summarize position of six countries in general and distance of countries from EU standards (Replicating Porter’s 5 forces model).

Keywords: Western Balkans, Regional Cooperation, Business Hibernation, Competitiveness, Growth, Innovation, Hidden Costs, Skills, Trade & Internationalization of SMEs.