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About me

Serena is a Lecturer in International Development and Economics at the University of Westminster's School of Organisations, Economy and Society. Before joining Westminster University, she held a post-doctoral position at the University of Oxford's Department for International Development, where she was involved in a EU FP7-funded project seeking to investigate the impact of Foreign Direct Investment on local labour markets in Ghana. Serena obtained her PhD and MSc from the University of Manchester and her BA from the University Federico II (Naples, Italy). She also has held research consultancy roles with Oxford Policy Management and a number of United Nations' organisations, including UNU-WIDER, the World Food Programme, and UNDP.

Her field of research is in the political economy of development, with her most recent research involvement looking at employment conditions, informal labour, and foreign direct investment inflows in low-income and emerging countries. Another strand of her research is also broadly concerned with social policy and cash transfer schemes, with a more recent focus on health policy and health systems reform in Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • PhD Supervision

Serena welcomes PhD proposals in the following research areas:

i) Globalisation, transnational investment, informal sector, employment conditions, knowledge transfer

ii) Health systems integration and health policy reform in the Global South

Current PhD Students

Sabine Franklin (3rd year): The 2014 Ebola Epidemic in West Africa and The Role of Traditional Institutions in Managing the Crisis

Jiandan Li (1st year): Chinese FDI in Europe, What Impact on Trade and Labour Markets? A case study of the Piraeus Port acquisition in Greece

  • Funding Received

£10,000 GCRF funding (internal) for the project: 'Indigenous Medicine and Biomedical Health Care in Fragile Settings: Governance roadblocks to reform in Burundi' 


I am the module convener for 'Development Economics and Policy' (MSc and MA in International Development Management) and I hold other teaching duties on a number of economics and development modules, at both postgraduate and undergraduate level.

Since 2018, I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


(I) Publications

Indigenous Medicine and Biomedical Health Care in Fragile Settings: Insights from Burundi’ (2018), with J.-B. Falisse and R. Ngenzebuhoro. Health Policy and Planning 2018: 1-11.

'Improving Financial Inclusion through the delivery of cash transfer programmes: The Case of Mexico’s Progresa-Oportunidades-Prospera Programme’ (2018)with M. Niño-Zarazúa. Journal of Development Studies, DOI:10.1080/00220388.2018.1546845

‘What works to improve the quality of student learning in developing countries?’ (2016), with M. Niño-Zarazúa, International Journal of Educational Development, 48:53-65.

'Macroeconomic Volatility, Institutional Instability, and the Incentive to Innovate’ (2015), Review of Development Economics 19(1): 116-131.

(II) Work in progress   

  •  II.1 Globalisation, FDI, and labour

'The winners and winners of globalisation, but who is winning more? – A case study of the Construction Industry in Accra, Ghana', with M. Akuffobea.

'Working Conditions and Knowledge Transfer: Does it matter where the FDI is from? – Evidence from the Construction Industry in Accra, Ghana', with M. Akuffobea.

  • II.2 Global Health Policy

'Indigenous Medicine and Biomedical Health Care in Fragile Settings: G overnance roadblocks to reform in Burundi' - GCRF funded research with J.-B. Falisse and R. Ngenzebuhoro

(III) Policy Reports

'MNEs, Local Capability Building, and Development: Chinese and European MNEs in Ghana' (2016) [download] - with Fu, X., Essegbey, G., Frempong, G., Hou, J., and Akuffobea, M., University of Oxford, TMCD Working Paper TMD-WP-74 

'Macro-Financial Assessment Country Reports' (2014) - World Food Programme (UN) Policy Reports Series.

'Strategic Plan for the Regional Development of Sumadija and Pomoravlje, 2008-2011 ' (2008), UNDP, REDASP.


For details of all my research outputs, visit my WestminsterResearch profile.