The Firms Speak: What the World Business Environment Survey Tells Us about Constraints on Private Sector Development
This paper, a synthesis of salient findings of the authors’ book entitled “Investment Climate Around the World: Voices of the Firms from the World Business Environment Survey”, and based on a chapter in “Pathways Out of Poverty: Private Firms and Economic Mobility in Developing Countries”, by G. Fields and G. Pfeffermann, summarizes the salient features of the World Business Environment Survey (WBES). It shows that important dimensions for the climate of business operation and investment can be measured, analyzed, and compared across countries, and that governance is key to the business environment and investment climate. The survey findings suggest that key policy, institutional and governance indicators affect the growth of a firm’s sale and investment and the extent to which firms operate in the unofficial economy. Further, the paper provides empirical support for some commonly held notions, while challenging others. It suggests a link between taxation, financing, and corruption on the one hand, and growth and investment on the other, and it highlights the costs to economies where the state is captured by a narrow set of private interests.
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