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Hoping to Win, Expected to Lose: Theory and Lessons on Microenterprise Development

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  • Dean Karlan, Ryan Knight, and Christopher Udry

Abstract

We show how financial and managerial constraints impede experimentation and thus limit learning about the profitability of investments. Imperfect information about one’s own type, but willingness to experiment to learn one’s type, leads to short-run negative expected returns to investments, with some outliers succeeding. We find in an experiment that entrepreneurs invest randomized grants of cash and adopt advice from randomized grants of consulting services, but both lead to lower profits on average. In the long run, they revert back to their prior scale of operations. In a meta-analysis, results from 19 other experiments find mixed support for this theory.

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File URL: http://www.cgdev.org/files/1426733_file_Karlan_Knight_Udry_micro_enterprise.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Center for Global Development in its series Working Papers with number 312.

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Length: 55 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cgd:wpaper:312

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Web page: http://www.cgdev.org

Related research

Keywords: entrepreneurship; credit constraints; business training; consulting; managerial capital;

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References

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Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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  1. Dean Karlan & Martin Valdivia, 2011. "Teaching Entrepreneurship: Impact of Business Training on Microfinance Clients and Institutions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 510-527, May.
  2. Christopher Udry & Santosh Anagol, 2006. "The Return to Capital in Ghana," Working Papers 932, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  3. Esther Duflo & Michael Kremer & Jonathan Robinson, 2009. "Nudging Farmers to Use Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya," NBER Working Papers 15131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Attanasio, Orazio & Augsburg, Britta & de Haas, Ralph & Fitzsimons, Emla & Harmgart, Heike, 2014. "Group lending or individual lending? Evidence from a randomised field experiment in Mongolia," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2014-303, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  5. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David J. & Woodruff, Christopher, 2009. "Measuring microenterprise profits: Must we ask how the sausage is made?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 19-31, January.
  6. Shawn Cole & Thomas Sampson & Bilal Zia, 2011. "Prices or Knowledge? What Drives Demand for Financial Services in Emerging Markets?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 66(6), pages 1933-1967, December.
  7. Marcel Fafchamps & David McKenzie & Simon Quinn & Christopher Woodruff, 2011. "When is capital enough to get female microenterprises growing? Evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana," CSAE Working Paper Series 2011-11, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  8. Bruhn, Miriam & Karlan, Dean & Schoar, Antoinette, 2013. "The impact of consulting services on small and medium enterprises: evidence from a randomized trial in Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6508, The World Bank.
  9. Dean Karlan & Christopher Udry & Isaac Osei-Akoto & Robert Darko Osei, 2012. "Agricultural Decisions after Relaxing Credit and Risk Constraints," Working Papers 1019, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  10. Nick Bloom & Ben Eifert & Aprajit Mahajan & David McKenzie & John Roberts, 2010. "Does management matter?: evidence from India," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 36366, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  11. repec:cge:warwcg:49 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2008. "Returns to Capital in Microenterprises: Evidence from a Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1329-1372, November.
  13. Mano, Yukichi & Iddrisu,, Alhassan & Yoshino, Yutaka & Sonobe, Tetsushi, 2011. "How can micro and small enterprises in Sub-Saharan Africa become more productive? the impacts of experimental basic managerial training," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5755, The World Bank.
  14. Gabriela Calderon & Jesse M. Cunha & Giacomo De Giorgi, 2013. "Business Literacy and Development: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Rural Mexico," NBER Working Papers 19740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Bruhn, Miriam & Zia, Bilal, 2011. "Stimulating managerial capital in emerging markets : the impact of business and financial literacy for young entrepreneurs," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5642, The World Bank.
  16. Britta Augsburg & Ralph De Haas & Heike Harmgart & Costas Meghir, 2012. "Microfinance at the margin: Experimental evidence from Bosnia and Herzegovina," IFS Working Papers W12/15, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2012. "What Are We Learning from Business Training and Entrepreneurship Evaluations around the Developing World?," IZA Discussion Papers 6895, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Margolis, David N., 2014. "By Choice and by Necessity: Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment in the Developing World," IZA Discussion Papers 8273, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Campos, Francisco & Coville, Aidan & Fernandes, Ana M. & Goldstein, Markus & McKenzie, David, 2012. "Learning from the experiments that never happened : lessons from trying to conduct randomized evaluations of matching grant programs in Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6296, The World Bank.
  4. Gabriela Calderon & Jesse M. Cunha & Giacomo De Giorgi, 2013. "Business Literacy and Development: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Rural Mexico," NBER Working Papers 19740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. repec:cge:warwcg:115 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Fafchamps, Marcel & McKenzie, David & Quinn, Simon & Woodruff, Christopher, 2014. "Microenterprise growth and the flypaper effect: Evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 211-226.

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