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Listening to firms : how to use firm-level surveys to assess constraints on private sector development


  • Stone, Andrew H.W.


Firm-level surveys elicit information important to formulating sound policy advice and designing projects to promote private sector development. Drawing on recent World Bank experience in eight countries, the author advises why and how to implement targeted field surveys by answering the following questions: Why use targeted field surveys? How should surveys be focused and designed? What types of questions work best in surveys? How can surveys be oriented toward their target population? How should surveys be implemented? How should responses be analyzed and used? In this common sense guide, the author emphasizes how a carefully designed and implemented survey helps you get the most from a brief session with an entrepreneur or senior manager. Examples of questions that have been useful in eliciting analytically tractable responses relevant for policy formulation are given. Pitfalls that diminish the value of surveys and bias their results are identified. The author discusses such practical necessities as training and supervising local surveyors, identifying firms, and entering data into an appropriate software package. Finally, he cautions against two extremes: omitting assessments of the private sector or using survey results out of context, and failing to weigh them against other sources of information. Omission is the more serious of the two problems.

Suggested Citation

  • Stone, Andrew H.W., 1992. "Listening to firms : how to use firm-level surveys to assess constraints on private sector development," Policy Research Working Paper Series 923, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:923

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