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What are we learning from business training and entrepreneurship evaluations around the developing world?

Author

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  • McKenzie, David J.
  • Woodruff, Christopher

Abstract

Business training programs are a popular policy option to try to improve the performance of enterprises around the world. The last few years have seen rapid growth in the number of evaluations of these programs in developing countries. We undertake a critical review of these studies with the goal of synthesizing the emerging lessons and understanding the limitations of the existing research and the areas in which more work is needed. We find that there is substantial heterogeneity in the length, content, and types of firms participating in the training programs evaluated. Many evaluations suffer from low statistical power, measure impacts only within a year of training, and experience problems with survey attrition and measurement of firm profits and revenues. Over these short time horizons, there are relatively modest impacts of training on survivorship of existing firms, but stronger evidence that training programs help prospective owners launch new businesses more quickly. Most studies find that existing firm owners implement some of the practices taught in training, but the magnitudes of these improvements in practices are often relatively modest. Few studies find significant impacts on profits or sales, although a couple of the studies with more statistical power have done so. Some studies have also found benefits to microfinance organizations of offering training. To date there is little evidence to help guide policymakers as to whether any impacts found come from trained firms competing away sales from other businesses versus through productivity improvements, and little evidence to guide the development of the provision of training at market prices. We conclude by summarizing some directions and key questions for future studies.

Suggested Citation

  • McKenzie, David J. & Woodruff, Christopher, 2013. "What are we learning from business training and entrepreneurship evaluations around the developing world?," CEPR Discussion Papers 9564, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9564
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. David McKenzie, 2010. "Impact Assessments in Finance and Private Sector Development: What Have We Learned and What Should We Learn?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 25(2), pages 209-233, August.
    2. Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2009. "Are Women More Credit Constrained? Experimental Evidence on Gender and Microenterprise Returns," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(3), pages 1-32, July.
    3. 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.
    4. Nicholas Bloom & Benn Eifert & Aprajit Mahajan & David McKenzie & John Roberts, 2013. "Does Management Matter? Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(1), pages 1-51.
    5. Pablo Fajnzylber & William Maloney & Gabriel Montes Rojas, 2006. "Microenterprise Dynamics in Developing Countries: How Similar are They to Those in the Industrialized World? Evidence from Mexico," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 20(3), pages 389-419.
    6. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2014. "Business training and female enterprise start-up, growth, and dynamics: Experimental evidence from Sri Lanka," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 199-210.
    7. repec:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/696154 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. 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.
    9. Alejandro Drexler & Greg Fischer & Antoinette Schoar, 2014. "Keeping It Simple: Financial Literacy and Rules of Thumb," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 1-31, April.
    10. Tetsushi Sonobe & Aya Suzuki & Keijiro Otsuka & Vu Hoang Nam, 2012. "KAIZEN for Managerial Skills Improvement in Small and Medium Enterprises: An Impact Evaluation Study in a knitwear cluster in Vietnam," Working Papers 29, Development and Policies Research Center (DEPOCEN), Vietnam.
    11. Bruhn, Miriam & Karlan, Dean S. & Schoar, Antoinette S, 2012. "The Impact of Consulting Services on Small and Medium Enterprises: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Mexico," CEPR Discussion Papers 8887, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Fafchamps, Marcel & McKenzie, David & Quinn, Simon & Woodruff, Christopher, 2012. "Using PDA consistency checks to increase the precision of profits and sales measurement in panels," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 51-57.
    13. Dean Karlan, Ryan Knight, and Christopher Udry, 2012. "Hoping to Win, Expected to Lose: Theory and Lessons on Microenterprise Development," Working Papers 312, Center for Global Development.
    14. Mano, Yukichi & Iddrisu, Alhassan & Yoshino, Yutaka & Sonobe, Tetsushi, 2012. "How Can Micro and Small Enterprises in Sub-Saharan Africa Become More Productive? The Impacts of Experimental Basic Managerial Training," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 458-468.
    15. Kjetil Bjorvatn & Bertil Tungodden, 2010. "Teaching Business in Tanzania: Evaluating Participation and Performance," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(2-3), pages 561-570, 04-05.
    16. Nicholas Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2010. "Why Do Management Practices Differ across Firms and Countries?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(1), pages 203-224, Winter.
    17. Erica Field & Seema Jayachandran & Rohini Pande, 2010. "Do Traditional Institutions Constrain Female Entrepreneurship? A Field Experiment on Business Training in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 125-129, May.
    18. repec:oup:qjecon:v:128:y:2012:i:1:p:1-51 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. John Gibson & David McKenzie, 2007. "Using Global Positioning Systems in Household Surveys for Better Economics and Better Policy," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 22(2), pages 217-241, September.
    20. Miriam Bruhn & Dean Karlan & Antoinette Schoar, 2010. "What Capital Is Missing in Developing Countries?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 629-633, May.
    21. Klinger, Bailey & Sch√ľndeln, Matthias, 2011. "Can Entrepreneurial Activity be Taught? Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Central America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(9), pages 1592-1610, September.
    22. John Gibson & David McKenzie, 2007. "Using the Global Positioning System (GPS) in Household Surveys For Better Economics and Better Policy," Working Papers in Economics 07/04, University of Waikato.
    23. McKenzie, David, 2012. "Beyond baseline and follow-up: The case for more T in experiments," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 210-221.
    24. Miriam Bruhn & Dean Karlan & Antoinette Schoar, 2018. "The Impact of Consulting Services on Small and Medium Enterprises: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Mexico," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 126(2), pages 635-687.
    25. McKenzie, David, 2011. "How can we learn whether firm policies are working in africa ? challenges (and solutions?) for experiments and structural models," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5632, The World Bank.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    business training; consulting; firm productivity; randomized experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • M53 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Training
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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