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, policy insights, and policy publications that synthesize general lessons emerging from the research.

A man works at a spice stall
Policy Publication

Winners and Losers: The Benefits and Dangers of Credit

Providing large loans to small businesses in Egypt had no impact on profits for the average borrower, but entrepreneurs predicted in advance to be top performers saw much higher returns than their peers.

People walking in narrow street with full of food stalls during daytime in India
Blog

Shaping the right incentives for firms to facilitate climate adaptation and improve environmental quality

IPA and JPAL have supported numerous rigorous research studies exploring diverse questions related to climate change and sustainable development. In particular, since 2020, the King Climate Action Initiative at J-PAL has funded several randomized evaluations addressing these questions as well as...

Policy Insight

Teaching business skills to support microentrepreneurs

Traditional business skills training programs lead to modest increases in microentrepreneurs’ profits and sales. Alternative training programs can lead to larger impacts, but some programs require more definitive evidence of their effectiveness.

Two men and one woman sit in chairs on a panel.
Blog

J-PAL partners with the IFC and IGC to discuss global supply chains, sustainability, and research collaboration

Can more firms learn from randomized evaluations to improve business operations in developing economies? How can development institutions better support clients to achieve sustainable growth and key performance improvements in terms of productivity, gender, work-related practices, skills, and other...

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.

Blog

Egyptian rug firms weave their way into foreign markets

From 2011 to 2014, J-PAL affiliates David Atkin and Adam Osman, with co-author Amit K. Khandelwal, evaluated small rug producers in Egypt to understand how exporting affects firms’ profits and productivity.
Two smiling women exchange a roll of fabric inside a textile factory in Zimbabwe.
Blog

Jobs and Opportunity Initiative commits first round of funds for research on entrepreneurship and enterprise development

Covid-19 has had a dramatic and lasting impact on the micro, small, and medium enterprise landscape worldwide, driving many to shut down or radically reshape the way they do business. The consequences of this shift extend beyond the firm to the livelihoods of its workers and their families...

A woman wearing a mask weighs bread in a store
Blog

Mapping the impact of COVID-19 on firms in LMICs: A snapshot from ongoing surveys

To understand how the pandemic has altered the business landscape in LMICs, J-PAL’s Firms Sector is synthesizing results from surveys conducted by J-PAL affiliates and invited researchers on the impact of COVID-19 on micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) around the world. This snapshot...

Sector Chairs

david atkin

Co-Chair, Firms

Professor of Economics

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Co-Chair, Firms

Associate Professor

University of Maryland

Sector Contacts

Ying Gao

Senior Policy Manager, J-PAL Global

Headshot of Michael Hou

Senior Policy Associate, J-PAL Global