PhD Defence: Omar El Nayal

In his dissertation ‘Firms and the State: An Examination of Corporate Political Activity and the Business-Government Interface’ Omar El Nayal focuses on researching a particular form of CPA, namely the appointment of politicians to firms’ boards of directors. 

Omar El Nayal defended his dissertation in the Senate Hall at Erasmus University Rotterdam on Thursday, 24 January 2019 at 15:30. His supervisors were Prof dr. Hans van Ooserhout (RSM) and Dr. Marc van Essen (University of South Carolina). Other members of the Doctoral Committee are Prof. Pursey Heugens (RSM) Prof. Amy Hillman(Arizona State University) Prof. Jean Philippe Bonardi (University of Lausanne) Prof. Taco Reus (RSM) and Dr. Daan Stam (RSM).

About Omar El Nayal

Omar El Nayal (1988) obtained his M.Phil. degree in Business Research, and his M.Sc. degree in Hospitality Management from the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University, The Netherlands. After completing his B.A in Finance at the American University in Cairo, he worked as an economist at the Ministry of Finance of Egypt, and as a Business Development Manager in the hospitality industry. He started his PhD trajectory in September 2014 at the Department of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship of RSM, working under the guidance of Prof. dr. Hans van Oosterhout and Dr. Marc van Essen. As part of his PhD trajectory, he spent two months as a visiting scholar at the University of South Carolina and the University of Southern California. 
Omar’s general research interest centers around firms’ nonmarket strategies in different institutional contexts. He focuses in particular on the business-government interface, and the various ways in which firms attempt to influence their political environments in order to advance and secure their economic interests. He has expertise in event study methods, multi-level analysis, and panel data analysis. Besides research, Omar is passionate about teaching and strives to bring new and interactive teaching methods to the classroom.
Omar is currently a visiting scholar at RSM. In February 2019, he will join the Católica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics in Portugal as Assistant Professor of Strategy.

Thesis Abstract

In their pursuit of competitive advantage, firms will sometimes engage in politics. In this dissertation, I build on a resource-dependence understanding of business-government relations to answer the following questions: (1) what are the antecedents of corporate political activity (CPA)? (2) what factors determine the expected benefits and costs of CPA? and (3) how do firms cope with political uncertainty when conventional forms of CPA are not readily available? In two studies of this dissertation, I focus on a particular form of CPA, namely the appointment of politicians to firms’ boards of directors. Using 14 OECD economies as an empirical context, I find that the degree of national corruption determines the benefits to firms of being politically-connected, but also the agency-based risks of being overly connected. I also find that politicians on the board can help firms secure relational capital from non-political stakeholders, such as financiers and the public at large. In the third study, I examine the transitional period in Egypt succeeding the collapse of an authoritarian regime, but preceding the establishment of a democratic alternative. Combining a behavioral view of investor decision-making with insights from the political science literature on civil conflict, I identify an important manifestation of political uncertainty that firms and their stakeholders face under interim governments specifically. Taken together, the findings of this dissertation demonstrate promising opportunities for multi-level and inter-disciplinary research on the business-government interface. In today’s politicized business environment, research of this kind is ever more important for business and society alike.

Photos: Hans / Capital Images