The Firms research cluster explores questions of productivity, global competitiveness and job creation. The focal points of inquiry include what are the drivers of, and barriers to, firm‐level productivity in developing countries, how cognizant have states in such countries been of these barriers and drivers and how can industrial policy be shaped to stimulate productivity gains at the firm‐level.

The Firms Cluster determines what the role of technical or productive inefficiency is in constricting economic growth in developing countries; what the determinants are of such inefficiencies, and how heterogeneous they are across industries; and what the cost of this inefficiency is in terms of making such countries less competitive regionally or globally.

The Firms Cluster determines what the role of technical or productive inefficiency is in constricting economic growth in developing countries; what the determinants are of such inefficiencies, and how heterogeneous they are across industries; and what the cost of this inefficiency is in terms of making such countries less competitive regionally or globally.

Finally, it examines how political leverage of firms in developing countries inhibits the entry and growth of smaller firms who lack such political connections, as well as the extent to which factors of production are misallocated.


According to the World Bank, South Asia’s economic outlook appears bleak. As COVID-19 continues to have devastating impacts on South Asian economies, the region is expected to plunge into its worst ever recession, resulting in a disproportionate toll on informal workers and pushing millions of South Asians into extreme poverty. World Bank reports suggest that the regional growth is expected to contract by 7.7 percent in 2020, after topping 6 percent annually in the past five years and projected to rebound to 4.5 percent in 2021. However, factoring in population growth, it is observed that the income-per-capita in the region will remain 6 percent below 2019 estimates, indicating that the expected rebound will not offset the lasting economic damage caused by this health crisis.

Research Problems

  • Within Pakistan specifically, the following research questions play a key role in shaping the cluster’s research activities and points of inquiry:


  • What are the gaps in the policy and institutional environment for transformational entrepreneurship, innovation and new product development in Pakistan?
  • What prevents firms from moving to formalization and to higher value-added production?
  • What market failures prevent firms from exploiting new export markets/products? How does information diffuse amongst local firms?


  • What is the role, in particular, of policy capture by larger and “connected” firms/sectors? What kind of barriers to entry and growth does this capture present?
  • What is the role in particular of the available education and skills in the labour force?
  • What role can peer learning, benchmarking, and more generally, better access to information (business specific or common) play in improving firm profit?



Adeel Tariq

Assistant Professor

Dr. Adeel Tariq is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. A Fulbright Scholar, he holds a PhD in Economics from Binghamton University, MSc in Economics from the Lahore University of Management Sciences, an MBA from the Lahore School of Economics and a BSc (Hons) in Economics & Management from the University of London. His research interests include the analysis of firm-level productivity and efficiency, the role of information frictions in emerging markets, housing affordability in developing countries and labor market dynamics.

Nazish Afraz

Teaching Fellow

Nazish Afraz is a Teaching Fellow at the Department of Economics at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. She has also taught BCURE, a Harvard University designed training program to equip civil servants to become more effective commissioners and consumers of evidence. She has over fifteen years of experience in teaching, and in conducting research to support evidence based public policy making in the UK and in Pakistan. She is also an affiliate at the Consortium for Development Policy Research. Research interests include industrial development, skills and trade. She has completed an MPhil in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science, an MSc in Economics and Finance from the University of Bristol, and has an undergraduate degree from the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

Maha Rehman

Ph.D candidate in Applied Economics, Cornell University

An economist, Maha has extensive experience in designing and evaluating programs, products and policies to improve resource allocation, service delivery, welfare and impact. Her research is at the intersection of development, health and behavioral economics. She undertakes field experiments in partnership with governments and non-governmental organizations in South Asia.

She works closely with local research firms and universities. She enjoys carefully collating novel and large datasets that are necessary to answer the questions at hand. From 2020-2022, she actively engaged in a multi-pronged analytical response to COVID in Pakistan. Prior to that, she set up the Analytics Wing at CERP that is focused on embedding data in the decisions and operations of private and public sector companies to increase efficiency, impact and profit.

She has also led research experiments at CERP and at the World Bank in the fields of education, public finance, and governance. She combines her coursework in economics with her interest in entrepreneurship. She has also served as the Director of Policy at the Mahbub-ul-Haq Research Centre at LUMS and a faculty member in the LUMS Economics Department.


Antonio Marasco

Assistant Professor

Antonio Marasco joined LUMS as an Assistant Professor in August 2006. Prior to joining LUMS, he had a one-year teaching appointment in Atilim University, Ankara. From 1990 to 1994 he was employed in the insurance sector at Lloyd Adriatico of Trieste.

He has been a teaching assistant at the University College, London and a visiting instructor at Bilkent University. His teaching interests are in macroeconomics, growth theories, and international trade. His research focuses broadly on the relationship between foreign direct investment, technological progress and economic growth. Another aspect of Antonio’s research has also been about studying the welfare impact of foreign direct investment and international trade on the recipient countries. Antonio holds a PhD from Radbound University, a Msc in Economics from Birbeck College, a MBA from Koc University, and a Bsc in Economics from the University of Trieste.

Uzair Kayani

Assistant Professor at the Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law, LUMS

Uzair Jamil Kayani is an Assistant Professor at the Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law, LUMS.

Dr.Kyani studied social choice and game theory with Professors Elizabeth M. Penn and John W. Patty at Washington University in St. Louis. He studied law and economics with Professor Richard Epstein, Judge Richard Posner, Professor William Landes, and Professor Douglas Baird at the University of Chicago. Earlier, Dr. Kyani had studied political philosophy, literature, and the Classics at Middlebury College (Vermont) and Deep Springs College (California).

Dr. Kyani teaches Torts, Commercial Law, and Law & Economics. Tort liability distributes the costs of social and economic harms to those parties that can best prevent, bear, or insure against them. Commercial law sets default rules for market exchange (sales, negotiable instruments, and securities), and market participants (partnerships, corporations, and hybrid forms). Economic analysis of law applies microeconomic insights (primarily price theory, game theory, and social choice) to study the incentives created by law and other forms of regulation.

Nadia Mukhtar

Teaching Fellow

A Noon Scholar, Nadia Mukhtar has a Masters in Economics for Development from Oxford University. She is a Teaching Fellow at the Department of Economics at LUMS and her research interests lie in the areas of development microeconomics, trade-related development and industrial organisation. She has researched widely for international development organisations and the government on a breadth of policy issues pertaining to competitiveness and growth of SMEs, youth engagement and social networks, as well as the trade-development nexus.

Her recent works include analysing the impact of youth (dis)engagement on development in Pakistan for the UNDP National Human Development Report 2017 and the effect of social networks on the uptake of microfinance in India. She has also looked at how trade agreements can raise bilateral trade between Pakistan and its neighbors (China, India and the Central Asian Republics). Policy work includes regional benchmarking of the competitiveness of Pakistan’s automotive and ready-made garments sectors that informed key government policies. Currently, she is looking at how Pakistan can harness the export potential of its pharmaceutical sector and is also using a survey-based study to assess the economic impact of COVID-19 on SMEs across Pakistan.

Faisal Bari

Associate Professor

Dr. Faisal Bari is the Interim Dean of the Syed Ahsan Ali and Syed Maratib Ali School of Education (SoE) at LUMS. He is also an Associate Professor at SoE and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. He has previously served as Head of the Economics Department from 2006-2008. Dr. Bari is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives (IDEAS). He is a former Executive Director and current research fellow at the Mahbubul Haq Research Centre (MHRC).His current teaching interests are in the areas of philosophy of education, inclusion, economics of education, game theory, microeconomics and industrial organization.

Dr. Bari has over twenty years of research experience in the field of industrial economics, development economics and education economics. Previously, he has worked as Deputy Country Director for Pakistan in the Central Eurasia Project and as an education economist for South Asia at the Open Society Foundation. He was a visiting faculty member at Yale University in 2000-2001. He has also consulted for various multilateral and bi-lateral agencies including the World Bank, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Department of International Development (DFID) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

He writes a fortnightly column for the English Daily The Dawn.

Dr. Bari obtained a Doctorate from McGill University and a Master’s Degree (Philosophy) from the University of Punjab. He has two Bachelors’ degrees, one from University of Oxford and another from Government College, Lahore. Dr. Bari was the recipient of the 1988 Rhodes Scholarship for Pakistan.

Abid A. Burki


Dr. Abid Aman Burki is a Mahbub ul Haq Research Centre fellow who served as Professor at the Economics Department at LUMS until 2020. From 2003 to 2010, Dr. Burki was Director of the Centre for Management and Economic Research (CMER) at LUMS. Prior to joining LUMS, he has been a Professor (1999-2002) and Head of Economics Department (2000 – 2002) at the Quaid-i-Azam University where he has held other academic positions since 1985. He has also taught at the Kansas State University and the BZ University.

His main current research areas are in technical efficiency and productivity, dairy sector, health sector, agriculture sector, industrial sector, inequality and poverty. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 articles, book chapters and professional reports. His academic research has appeared in World Development, Energy Economics, Applied Economics, Journal of Economics & Business, Land Use Policy, Journal of Development Effectiveness, Economics Bulletin, Pakistan Development Review and other journals.

He has received several research grants and has been a consultant to the Government of Pakistan, UNICEF, UNESCO, World Bank, JICA, IFPRI, Nestle Pakistan, Tetra Pak Pakistan, Indus Motor Company, GIZ, Oxfam, IGC, among others.

He holds a PhD degree in Economics from Kansas State University and is the recipient of the 2001 President of Pakistan’s academic distinction award Izaz-i-Fazeelat.