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Identifying Gazelles: Expert Panels vs. Surveys as a Means to Identify Firms with Rapid Growth Potential

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  • Marcel Fafchamps
  • Christopher Woodruff

Abstract

We conduct a business plan competition to test whether survey instruments or panel judges are able to identify the fastest growing firms. Participants submitted six- to eight-page business plans and defended them before a three- or four-judge panel. We surveyed applicants shortly after they applied and one and two years after the competition. We use follow-up surveys to construct measures of enterprise growth and baseline surveys and panel scores to construct measures of enterprise growth potential. We find that a measure of ability correlates strongly with future growth, but that the panel scores add to predictive power even after controlling for ability and other survey variables. The survey questions have more power to explain the variance in growth. Participants presenting before the panel were given a chance to win customized management training. Fourteen months after the training, we find no positive effect of the training on growth of the business.

Suggested Citation

  • Marcel Fafchamps & Christopher Woodruff, 2017. "Identifying Gazelles: Expert Panels vs. Surveys as a Means to Identify Firms with Rapid Growth Potential," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 31(3), pages 670-686.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:31:y:2017:i:3:p:670-686.
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Luís M B Cabral & José Mata, 2003. "On the Evolution of the Firm Size Distribution: Facts and Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1075-1090, September.
    2. Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger & Ronald S. Jarmin & C.J. Krizan & Javier Miranda & Alfred Nucci & Kristin Sandusky, 2009. "Measuring the Dynamics of Young and Small Businesses: Integrating the Employer and Nonemployer Universes," NBER Chapters, in: Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data, pages 329-366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2014. "What Are We Learning from Business Training and Entrepreneurship Evaluations around the Developing World?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 29(1), pages 48-82.
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    Cited by:

    1. González-Uribe, Juanita & Reyes, Santiago, 2021. "Identifying and boosting “Gazelles”: Evidence from business accelerators," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 139(1), pages 260-287.
    2. David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2017. "Business Practices in Small Firms in Developing Countries," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 63(9), pages 2967-2981, September.
    3. Xinshen Diao & Josaphat Kweka & Margaret McMillan, 2016. "Economic Transformation in Africa from the Bottom Up: Evidence from Tanzania," NBER Working Papers 22889, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. McKenzie, David & Sansone, Dario, 2019. "Predicting entrepreneurial success is hard: Evidence from a business plan competition in Nigeria," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 141(C).
    5. Dalton, Patricio & Rüschenpöhler, Julius & Zia, Bilal, 2018. "Aspirations of Small-scale Entrepreneurs : Evidence from Urban Retailers in Indonesia," Other publications TiSEM bc573b53-32a8-497b-a67d-d, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    6. Mckenzie,David J. & Sansone,Dario & Mckenzie,David J. & Sansone,Dario, 2017. "Man vs. machine in predicting successful entrepreneurs : evidence from a business plan competition in Nigeria," Policy Research Working Paper Series 8271, The World Bank.
    7. Erin L. Scott & Pian Shu & Roman M. Lubynsky, 2015. "Are “Better” Ideas More Likely to Succeed? An Empirical Analysis of Startup Evaluation," Harvard Business School Working Papers 16-013, Harvard Business School.
    8. Marcel Fafchamps & Simon Quinn, 2017. "Aspire," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(10), pages 1615-1633, October.
    9. Lall, Saurabh A. & Chen, Li-Wei & Roberts, Peter W., 2020. "Are we accelerating equity investment into impact-oriented ventures?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 131(C).
    10. Dalton,Patricio S. & Ruschenpohler,Julius & Zia,Bilal Husnain, 2018. "Determinants and dynamics of business aspirations : evidence from small-scale entrepreneurs in an emerging market," Policy Research Working Paper Series 8400, The World Bank.
    11. David McKenzie, 2017. "Identifying and Spurring High-Growth Entrepreneurship: Experimental Evidence from a Business Plan Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(8), pages 2278-2307, August.
    12. Erin L. Scott & Pian Shu & Roman M. Lubynsky, 2020. "Entrepreneurial Uncertainty and Expert Evaluation: An Empirical Analysis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(3), pages 1278-1299, March.
    13. Olivier Sterck & Antonia Delius, 2020. "Cash Transfers and Micro-Enterprise Performance: Theory and Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Kenya," CSAE Working Paper Series 2020-09, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives

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