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.


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...


Mentoring Small and Medium Micro-enterprises in Puebla, Mexico

What impact does mentoring for small businesses have on employment generation and business performance?


Improving Industrial Pollution Regulations in India

Altering economic incentives caused third-party auditors to switch from biased reporting to truth-telling in a very short span of time and reduced pollution in Gujarat, India.

Indian man pictured with his family and his wares


Importance of Ethnic Networks in Business Transactions in India

The ethnicities of the parties in business transactions in in India affect the outcomes. For example, when traders meet a buyer of the same ethnicity, they offer lower prices.


Network Effects in SME Clusters: An Experiment to Differentiate the Diffusion Paths of Business and Technical Training in Uganda

Many governments and organizations use finance and management training as a tool to promote small and medium enterprise growth in developing countries, but it is not clear whether or how information...


Evidence on Effects of and Rationales for Subsidized Entrepreneurship Training in the United States

Subsidizing entrepreneurship training in the United States did not improve access to training services or promoted employment among groups affected by discrimination.

Sector Chairs

David Atkin


Nicholas Bloom


Sector Contacts

Alison Fahey

Alison Fahey

Associate Director of Policy

[email protected]
(617) 324-6363

Serene Ho

Senior Policy Associate

[email protected]
(617) 253-1691