Dr Gül Berna Özcan

Personal profile

I am a Reader in International Business and Entrepreneurship at Royal Holloway. I have held various academic positions and visiting appointments, including Visiting Professor at the International School of Yonsei University (2015-2019), Research Director of the Chevening Gurukul Fellowship, London School of Economics (2005-2013), Associate Fellow and Political Risk Analyst at the Emerging Markets Group, London School of Economics (2002-2008), Assistant Professor, Middle East Technical University (1994-1996), and Research Assistant, University of Rome “La Sapienza” (1986-1987).

I hold a PhD in Economic Geography (London School of Economics), an MSc (Middle East Technical University) and a BSc (Dokuz Eylul) in City and Regional Planning, and a certificate in Architectural Conservation from ICCROM (The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property). My research fellowships include, the Robert McNamara Fellowship of the World Bank, a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, and a Social Science Research Fellowship of the American University of Central Asia.

I investigate the spatial, moral and political character of the enterprise and business actors through an interdisciplinary approach. My work on local economic development draws upon economic geography and examines political and social mobilisation of small business owners in provincial regions of Turkey. In entrepreneurship, I show how social stratification, ideological transformations and class relocation shape the development of post-Soviet businesses. In political economy, I examine the political alignments of firms and the co-option of business interests by authoritarian polities. In international business, I explore the emerging market business groups and their internationalisation strategies. These analyses use both ethnographic and quantitative techniques and I have built cross-regional business data sets through extensive fieldwork research in several languages (Turkish, Italian, Russian and Uzbek).

My publications appeared in leading journals, such as Business and Politics, Journal of Business Research, Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, World Development, Comparative Economic Studies, Environment and Planning C, Progress in Planning, and Insight Turkey. With extensive empirical research on SMEs and enterprise development in post-Soviet and emerging regions, I published numerous books such as Diverging Paths of Development in Central Asia (Ed. Routledge, 2017); Building States and Markets: Enterprise Development in Central Asia (Palgrave, 2010); Small Firms and Local Economic Development: Entrepreneurship in Southern Europe and Turkey (Ashgate, 1995).



I have taught a variety of courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. These include leadership and women, strategic management, modern corporations, European business, international perspectives on entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship history and theory, corporate governance, and research methods.

I welcome high quality proposals from prospective PhD students wishing to undertake research in international business and entrepreneurship, especially in the fields of business-politics ties, technology use by SMEs and the internationalisation of emerging market business groups. My previous doctoral students include Sinfree Gono (SMEs and ICT use in South Africa), Patrick Giwa (Technology entrepreneurship in Nigeria), Umut Gündüz (Political ties and business performance in Turkey) and Nadia Popova (FDI in Bulgaria).

Other work

I am involved in various external engagement and policy development activities as an expert reviewer for the European Research Area of the European Union, ESRC and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, an elected council member of the British Association for Turkish Area Studies (BATAS), an international advisory board member of the Anatolian Artisans. I was the lead author of the UNDP study on business solutions to poverty in the CIS and Eastern European countries.  I am the co-founder of London Central Asia Research Network, an interdisciplinary hub for early career researchers, and give frequent media interviews such as: BBC Radio 4 (“Turkey: The New Ottomans” by Alan Little and "Woman's Hour"), BBC World TV, the Financial Times, Sky News, TRT Avaz, Correio Braziliense and Radio Free Europe.

Recent Activities

  • China’s Business in Central Asia: Power and Anxiety” co-sponsored by the Kennan Institute and the Kissinger Institute, Woodrow Wilson Centre, Washington DC (20 February 2020), also presented at the Asian Studies Research Group Seminar, Newcastle University (20 January 2020) 
  • “Siyasi Bağlantılı Şirketler Üzerine bir Üçleme: Kindar Piyasa, Özelleştirmeler ve Otokrasi” [A Trio of Works on Politically Connected Firms: Vindictive Markets, Privatisations and Autocracy] İlhan Tekeli Şehircilik Kültürü Vakfı, Ankara (18 May 2019)
  • "The Coronavirus Effect On Central Asia’s Relations With China" Radio Free Europe, Majlis Podcast by Muhammad Tahir (7 June 2020)



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