Deals Versus Rules: Policy Implementation Uncertainty and Why Firms Hate It
AbstractFirms in Africa report "regulatory and economic policy uncertainty" as a top constraint to their growth. We argue that often firms in Africa do not cope with policy rules, rather they face deals; firm-specific policy actions that can be influenced by firm actions (e.g. bribes) and characteristics (e.g. political connections). Using Enterprise Survey data we demonstrate huge variability in reported policy actions across firms notionally facing the same policy. The within-country dispersion in firm-specific policy actions is larger than the cross-national differences in average policy. We show that variability in this policy implementation uncertainty within location-sector-size cells is correlated with firm growth rates. These measures of implementation variability are more strongly related to lower firm employment growth than are measures of "average" policy action. Finally, we show that the de jure measures such as Doing Business indicators are virtually uncorrelated with ex-post firm-level responses, further evidence that deals rather than rules prevail in Africa. Strikingly, the gap between de jure and de facto conditions grows with the formal regulatory burden. The evidence also shows more burdensome processes open up more space for making deals; firms may not incur the official costs of compliance, but they still pay to avoid them. Finally, measures of institutional capacity and better governance are closely associated with perceived consistency in implementation.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Harvard Kennedy School of Government in its series Scholarly Articles with number 4448884.
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series
Other versions of this item:
- Hallward-Driemeier, Mary & Khun-Jush, Gita & Pritchett, Lant, 2010. "Deals versus rules : policy implementation uncertainty and why firms hate it," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5321, The World Bank.
- Hallward-Driemeier, Mary & Khun-Jush, Gita & Pritchett, Lant, 2010. "Deals versus Rules: Policy Implementation Uncertainty and Why Firms Hate It," Working Paper Series rwp10-027, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
- Mary Hallward-Driemeier & Gita Khun-Jush & Lant Pritchett, 2010. "Deals versus Rules: Policy Implementation Uncertainty and Why Firms Hate It," NBER Working Papers 16001, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
- H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm
- J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
- K20 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - General
- O17 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
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