Firms

Research by J-PAL affiliates in the Firms sector seeks to evaluate how to best help firms grow, innovate, and contribute to economic growth, and to better understand the impact of firms on workers’ wellbeing in and out of the workplace.

Identifying policies and programs that increase private sector firms’ productivity and growth may have important consequences for development and poverty alleviation. J-PAL’s Firms sector seeks to evaluate what works best in generating firm growth and raising productivity. The sector also seeks to test the impact of these policies on employee welfare, the environment, and the broader economy.

J-PAL affiliates’ research in this sector focuses on understanding and relieving constraints to generating firm growth. Topics of study include the impacts of management practice improvements, the impacts of policies that facilitate access to markets and global value chains, effective policy levers for firm expansion, and the importance of large firms in generating employment. We hope that new research in the sector will explore the role that firms play in driving economic growth, whether the size of firms generates or reduces inequality, and whether firms’ gains trickle down to their employees.

In addition to supporting policymakers in applying evidence from randomized evaluations to their work, sector chairs and staff write evaluation summaries and policy publications that synthesize general lessons emerging from the research.

A dad works on his laptop on the couch while children climb all over him.
Blog

Working remotely or remotely working? Best practices in working from home post COVID-19

Research from randomized evaluations can shed light on some of the benefits of working from home for employees and their employers—and best practices for those of us looking to maximize our productivity while preserving some work-life balance.  

Policy Insight

Teaching business skills to support microentrepreneurs

Business skills training programs increased microentrepreneurs’ use of business best practices, but in most cases, there were no significant changes in their profits.

A hand fills out a PPP loan application form.
Blog

Too complicated, too confusing: why more small businesses aren’t applying for coronavirus relief loans, and what we can do to reach them

Economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19 will depend on the survival of businesses, yet many at-risk small businesses struggle to reach the SBA’s financial lifeboat. How might policymakers encourage emergency relief loan applications from the most vulnerable small businesses?

Policy Insight

Supporting firm growth through consulting and business training

Economists have long identified large differences in productivity between countries and between firms. One potential explanation for the persistent gap is that some firms have better management practices than others.

Evaluation

The Impact of Exporting: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Egypt

Researchers partnered with Aid to Artisans (ATA), a US-based nonprofit, and Hamis Carpets, an Egypt-based distributor, to provide small-scale rug manufacturers the opportunity to export to high-income countries. Offering small firms the opportunity to export rugs to high-income markets increased...

garment workers in a factory
Evaluation

Can foreign multinationals improve the enforcement of local workplace safety laws? Evidence from the apparel sector in Bangladesh

A researcher partnered with the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a consortium formed by US multinational companies, to evaluate the impact of privately enforcing local labor laws on garment factories in Bangladesh. Enforcing the legally-required creation and operation of workplace safety...

Blog

Introducing J-PAL's Firms sector

What role do policies that affect private sector firms play in closing the productivity gap between higher-income and lower-income countries, and what are the implications of firms’ policies on economic growth and worker welfare?

Sector Chairs

david atkin

Co-Chair, Firms

Professor of Economics

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Co-Chair, Firms

William D. Eberle Professor of Economics

Stanford University

Sector Contacts

Policy Associate, J-PAL Global

Lisa Corsetto

Policy Manager, J-PAL Global

Siena Harlin

Policy and Communications Associate, J-PAL Global