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Business Practices in Small Firms in Developing Countries

Author

Listed:
  • David McKenzie

    (World Bank, Washington, DC 20433)

  • Christopher Woodruff

    (Department of Economics, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, United Kingdom)

Abstract

Management has a large effect on the productivity of medium and large firms. But does management matter in micro and small firms, where the majority of the labor force in developing countries works? We develop 26 questions that measure business practices in marketing, stock-keeping, record-keeping, and financial planning. These questions have been administered in surveys in Bangladesh, Chile, Ghana, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, and Sri Lanka. We show that variation in business practices explains as much of the variation in outcomes—sales, profits, and labor productivity and total factor productivity—in microenterprises as in larger enterprises. Panel data from three countries indicate that better business practices predict higher survival rates and faster sales growth. The association of business practices with firm outcomes is robust to including numerous measures of the owner’s human capital. We find that owners with higher human capital, children of entrepreneurs, and firms with employees employ better business practices.

Suggested Citation

  • David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2017. "Business Practices in Small Firms in Developing Countries," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 63(9), pages 2967-2981, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:63:y:2017:i:9:p:2967-2981
    DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2016.2492
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    business practices; small enterprises; productivity; management;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • M20 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Economics - - - General
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • M53 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Training

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