Although Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina is a small municipality by population, it continues to be a recipient of substantial international assistance. Because of this and its contemporary history, it is a compelling case for a study of local economic development in transitional and post-conflict environments. Any potential achievements in Srebrenica could have economic and political impact far beyond its boundaries.
This research addresses institutional support for local economic development (LED); the role of vocational education and training (VET); and the potential role of entrepreneurship and self-employment. This case study consisted of three distinct activities: analysis of applicable studies, participatory observation by the researcher during his professional (and later academic) engagement in Srebrenica and in-depth individual interviews with local business, municipal and other representatives and a group of the unemployed.
The research determined there is a very weak institutional support for LED at local level because of capacity issues and strong preference for exogenous development approach.
Srebrenica's local businesses, which largely produce low value-added products have not grown over the last two years, nor used some of the opportunities to upgrade internal capabilities through various consulting assistance programmes offered by international donours.
The secondary level vocational education and learning systems are very rigid, and their offering is inconsistent with the local economic opportunities and potential. There are almost no local opportunities for adult learning, and key regional and national institutions are not operational.
While there is a potential to have limited employment increases through self-employment, there is a limited local appreciation for entrepreneurship, and little or no evidence of individuals committed to creating growth-oriented companies. Local attitudes towards work are still reminiscent of the socialist culture, and many individuals expressed desire for long-term employment security and certainty.
Regional- and national-level capacity and institution-building needs to rapidly accelerate in order to support particularly smaller municipalities. An increased cooperation between policy makers, businesses and NGOs particularly in the areas of adult learning including VET; labour policy as well as entrepreneurship will be a per-condition for any substantial improvement. Greater appreciation of social capital and social networks would facilitate these objectives.