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Gül Berna Özcan

Former Fellow


September 1, 2008 — December 1, 2009

Professional affiliation

Reader, International Business and Entrepreneurship, Royal Holloway, University of London

Dr. Gül Berna Özcan is Reader in International Business and Entrepreneurship at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research deals with internationalization of firms, business-politics relations, and entrepreneurs’ moral standing.  She holds a PhD in Economic Geography (London School of Economics), an MSc in City and Regional Planning (Middle East Technical University, Ankara) and received numerous awards including, the Robert McNamara Fellowship of the World Bank (1998-1999), the Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship (2005-2007) and the Fellowship of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2008-2009). Among her books Building States and Markets: Enterprise Development in Central Asia (Palgrave, 2010) explores the characteristics of the emerging entrepreneurial middle class in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Another edited volume, Diverging Paths of Development in Central Asia (Routledge, 2017), analyses post-Soviet development challenges. Homepage:

Wilson Center Projects

"Control of Markets and Governance through Strategic Assets in Central Asia"

Full Biography

Throughout my academic career I have endeavored to contribute to our understanding of business analysis, economic development and governance through my research, teaching and related activities. I have utilized methodologies taken from economic geography, institutional economics, social anthropology and international business studies. Using both qualitative and quantitative techniques my work is rooted in empirical analysis and I have always been personally engaged with my research subjects. I completed my early education in Turkey, later I worked and studied in Italy, the UK and the USA. Many institutions, teachers and collaborators shaped my learning and understanding of methodologies and theoretical perspectives in social sciences. My writings show a hybridization of these influences in a multi-disciplinary perspective.

My research on business networks, industry analysis and enterprise development have made a significant impact in their respective fields. The book, Small Firms and Local Economic Development (1995), published after my PhD research at the London School of Economics, and the study on local business networks published in Entrepreneurship and Regional Development (1995) influenced many small and medium sized enterprise and local economic development studies in Turkey and Southern Europe. In the mid-1990s, I applied new theoretical and methodological approaches in analyzing retail transformation in Turkey within different spheres of inquiry (articles in Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans, 2000 and European Retail Digest, 2001); one recent book chapter examines how large domestic retailers can survive through transplantation and cloning (Remaking Management, Smith et al. eds., Cambridge University Press, 2008). Winning the McNamara Fellowship of the World Bank in 1998 gave me the opportunity to study issues of development, decentralization and institution building in greater depth at the local level. This work showed the need for more robust lateral structures for better functioning local democracy and socially balanced growth (articles in Progress in Planning, 2000 and Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 2006). I studied the rising notion of Islamic business and finance with Dr Murat Çokgezen of Marmara University as these groups became more vocal over the years. Our analysis highlighted the pitfalls of Islamic businesses and the intricate politics of institution building along with the failure to establish impersonal trust and credible institutions for alternative capitalization (articles in World Development, 2003 and Comparative Economic Studies, 2006). In the early 2000s, I developed a growing interest in the transformation of the post-Soviet states in Central Asia. With a Leverhulme Research Fellowship and a Nuffield Foundation grant, I traveled extensively in the region and studied enterprise development in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. With data from over 200 business interviews and in-depth cases my book, Building States and Markets: Enterprise Development in Central Asia, analyses post-Soviet transformation in relation to layers of first and second generation entrepreneurs and their relationship with state power. I am committed to deepen my research further in this region in the coming years. 


B.Sc. (1983) Urban and Regional Planning, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, Turkey; M.Sc. (1987) Urban and Regional Planning, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey; Ph.D. (1993) Economic Geography, London School of Economics 


  • Executive Board Member, British Association for Turkish Area Studies, 2018-Present
  • International Summer School Faculty, Yonsei University, South Korea 2016-2020
  • Expert Evaluator, European Commission, 2003-2020
  • Social Science Research Fellow, American University of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan, 2009
  • Political Risk Analyst, Emerging Markets Group, London School of Economics, 2002-2008
  • McNamara Fellow of the World Bank, London School of Economics, 1998-1999
  • Assistant Professor, Middle East Technical University, Turkey, 1994-1996


Economic geography; international business; entrepreneurship; transition economics; political economy of Central Asia and Turkey; Uzbekistan; Kazakhstan

Major Publications



  • Diverging Paths of Development in Central Asia, London: Routledge (2017) [edited].
  • Building States and Markets: Enterprise Development in Central Asia, London: Palgrave Macmillan, (2010).

Journal articles

  •  “Strategic Entry and Operational Integration of Emerging Market Firms: The Case of Cemex, Beko and Tata Steel in the UK”, Journal of BusinessResearch, Vol. 93, December: 242-254  (2018) [with Adrian M. Coronado and G. Harindranath].
  • “Political Connectedness and Business Performance: Evidence from Turkish Industry Rankings”, Business and Politics, Vol. 17/1: 71-73 (2015) [with Umut Gündüz].
  • “Limits to Alternative Forms of Capitalization: The Case of Anatolian Holding Companies”, World Development, Vol. 31/12: 2061-2084 (2003) [with M. Çokgezen].