Cirera, Xavier

Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Global Practice
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Innovation and Entrepreneurship
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Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Global Practice
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Last updated August 7, 2023
Xavier Cirera is a senior economist in the Finance, Competitiveness, and Innovation (FCI) Global Practice of the World Bank. His work focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship. He has led the evaluation of innovation policies, including through the development of public expenditure reviews in science, technology, and innovation implemented in Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ukraine, and Vietnam. He is the coauthor of The Innovation Paradox: Developing-Country Capabilities and the Unrealized Promise of Technological Catch-Up and A Practitioner’s Guide to Innovation Policy: Instruments to Build Firm Capabilities and Accelerate Technological Catch-Up in Developing Countries. His most recent work focuses on the measurement and impact of technology adoption and diffusion. Before joining the World Bank, he served as a research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex. He holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Sussex.
Citations 48 Scopus

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Now showing 1 - 4 of 4
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    Deconstructing the Missing Middle: Informality and Growth of Firms in Sub-Saharan Africa
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-11) Abreha, Kaleb Girma ; Cirera, Xavier ; Fattal Jaef, Roberto N. ; Maemir, Hibret Belete ; Davies, Elwyn ; Maemir, Hibret Belete
    This paper characterizes the firm size distribution by exploiting establishment-level censuses covering both formal and informal firms in Sub-Saharan Africa. The paper finds a "missing middle" in the employment-based size distribution of firms in four Sub-Saharan African countries. This "missing middle" hinges on the inclusion of informal firms, and it is not explained by state- or foreign-owned firms at the top of the size distribution, nor does it emerge from the size distribution of entrants. The paper reconciles these empirical results with a model of firm dynamics with endogenous informality and shows that calibrated values of entry barriers and productivity-dependent idiosyncratic distortions generate a "missing middle" that is consistent with its underlying drivers in the data.
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    Technology and Resilience
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2022-03-01) Cirera, Xavier ; Comin, Diego Adolfo ; Cruz, Marcio ; Lee, Kyungmin ; Torres Coronado, Jesica
    This paper estimates the impact of technology sophistication pre-COVID-19 on the performance of firms during the early stages of the pandemic. It exploits a unique data set covering firms from Brazil, Senegal, and Vietnam, using a treatment effect mediation framework to decompose the results into direct and indirect effects. Increasing pre-pandemic technology sophistication by one standard deviation is associated with 3.8 percentage points higher sales. Both effects are positive, but the direct effect is about five times larger than the indirect effect. The total effect on sales is markedly nonlinear with significantly smaller estimates of the reduction in sales for firms with more sophisticated pre-pandemic technology. The results are robust to different measures of digital responses and matching estimators.
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    Exporting and Technology Adoption in Brazil
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2023-06-15) Cirera, Xavier ; Comin, Diego ; Cruz, Marcio ; Lee, Kyung Min ; Martins-Neto, Antonio
    There is limited evidence on the role of participating in international trade in the diffusion of technologies. This paper analyzes the impact of exporting on firms’ adoption of more sophisticated technologies, using a novel dataset, the Firm-level Adoption of Technology survey, which includes more than 1,500 firms in Brazil. The survey provides detailed information on the use of more than 300 technologies, combined with data from Brazil’s census of formal workers and export data from the Ministry of Trade. To address critical endogeneity concerns, the analysis applies difference-in-differences with multiple periods to examine the effects of entering export markets on technology adoption. The findings show that exporting has a positive effect on firms’ likelihood of adopting advanced technologies in business functions related to business administration, production planning, supply chain management, and quality control, which are important for managing tasks associated with export activities.
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    The Effects of Innovation on Employment in Developing Countries: Evidence from Enterprise Surveys
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-08) Cirera, Xavier ; Sabetti, Leonard
    While existing evidence in advanced economies suggests a possible role for technological innovation in job creation, its role in developing countries remains largely undocumented. This paper sheds light on the direct impact of technological as well as organizational innovation on firm level employment growth based on the theoretical model of Harrison, Jaumandreu, Mairesse, and Peters (2014) using a sample of over 15,000 firms in Africa, South Asia, Middle East and North-Africa and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The results suggest that new sales associated with product innovations tend to be produced with just as much or higher levels of labor intensity. The effect is largest in lower income countries and the African region, where firms are further away from the technological frontier. More importantly, process innovations that involve automation of production do not have a short-term negative impact on firm employment. However, there is some evidence of a negative effect of automation on employment that manifests in increases in efficiency that reduce the elasticity of new sales to employment. Overall, these results are qualitatively similar to previous findings in advanced economies and highlight a positive direct role of innovation on the quantity of employment but at a decreasing rate as firms’ transition to the technological frontier.