Global Practice on Trade and Competitiveness, The World Bank
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Global Practice on Trade and Competitiveness, The World Bank
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Last updated January 31, 2023
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Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-04) Cruz, Marcio ; Bussolo, Maurizio ; Iacovone, LeonardoA growing literature aiming at explaining differences across firms in productivity and access to global export markets has focused on the internal organization of firms. This paper contributes to this literature by evaluating the impact of a program that focuses on enhancing competitiveness of small and medium enterprises in Brazil by providing coaching and consulting on management and production practices. Specifically, the paper tests whether the program induces treated firms to reorganize knowledge by adding more layers of different skills and competencies to their workforces. Using a unique firm-level dataset, the number of layers of the firms are compared before and after the program. The impact of the program is identified by relying on an instrumental variable approach, exploiting the quasi-experiment roll-out of its implementation, which was carried out at different times across Brazilian regions. The analysis finds that the program had an effect and that this effect is heterogeneous. The program is particularly effective in promoting the reorganization of firms with initially fewer layers. The results confirm another finding of the literature, namely that in re-organized firms inequality of wages increases, as firms pay higher wages in added higher layers than in pre-existing ones. Finally, these results are used to discuss how the change in firms' organization is positively correlated with export performance.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-10) Torres, Jesica ; Maduko, Franklin ; Gaddis, Isis ; Iacovone, Leonardo ; Beegle, KathleenThe COVID-19 pandemic has struck businesses across the globe with unprecedented impacts. The world economy has been hit hard and firms have experienced a myriad of challenges, but these challenges have been heterogeneous across firms. This paper examines one important dimension of this heterogeneity: the differential effect of the pandemic on women-led and men-led businesses. The paper exploits a unique sample of close to 40,000 mainly formal businesses from 49 countries covering the months between April and September 2020. The findings show that women-led micro-businesses, women-led businesses in the hospitality industry, and women-led businesses in countries more severely affected by the COVID-19 shock were disproportionately hit compared with businesses led by men. At the same time, women-led micro-firms were markedly more likely to report increasing the use of digital platforms, but less likely to invest in software, equipment, or digital solutions. Finally, the findings also show that women-led businesses were less likely to have received some form of public support although they have been hit harder in some domains. In a crisis of the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic, evidence tracing the impact of the shock in a timely fashion is desperately needed to help inform the design of policy interventions. This real-time glimpse into women-led businesses fills this need for robust and policy-relevant evidence, and due to the large country coverage of the data, it is possible to identify patterns that extend beyond any one country, region, or sector, but at the cost of some granularity for testing more complex economic theories.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-01) Campos, Francisco ; Frese, Michael ; Goldstein, Markus ; Iacovone, Leonardo ; Johnson, Hillary ; McKenzie, David ; Mensmann, MonaStandard business training programs aim to boost the incomes of the millions of self-employed business owners in developing countries, by teaching accounting, marketing and other basic business skills. However, research shows limited impacts of this traditional business training approach. Through an experiment in Togo, we introduced the personal initiative training program, a new and effective psychology-based entrepreneurship training that outperforms traditional business training. The personal initiative training increased firm profits in Togo by 30 percent relative to a control group, compared to no significant impacts from a traditional business training. Personal initiative training led to more than just a boost in profits for micro entrepreneurs. After the training business owners were more innovative, introduced new products, borrowed more and made larger investments. The personal initiative training was particularly effective for female entrepreneurs, for whom traditional training has often been in effective. Women who received personal initiative training saw their profits increase by 40 percent, compared to 5 percent for traditional business. This study’s findings make a strong case for the role of psychology in better influencing how small business training programs are taught in West Africa and beyond. It shows the importance of developing an entrepreneurial mindset in addition to learning the business practices of successful entrepreneurs. Based on these promising results, the personal initiative training is being implemented in programs in Mozambique, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Jamaica, and Mexico.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-10) Cucagna, Emilia ; Iacovone, Leonardo ; Rubiano-Matulevich, ElianaAcross the globe, women often face lower income opportunities relative to men. Many of the dierences in economic outcomes can be explained by the sectors in which women tend to operate. Structural factors also contribute to the gender gap in economic opportunities. Mexican women who cross over to operate businesses in male-dominated sectors perform better than noncrossovers in a range of indicators, including sales and profits. This brief focuses on the women entrepreneurs in Mexico as of October 2020.
Publication(Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2016-04-01) Calderon, Gabriela ; Iacovone, Leonardo ; Juarez, LauraEntrepreneurs that voluntarily choose to start a business because they are able to identify a good business opportunity and act on it opportunity entrepreneurs might be different along various dimensions from those who are forced to become entrepreneurs because of lack of other alternatives necessity entrepreneurs. To provide evidence on these differences, this article exploits a unique data set covering a wide array of characteristics, including cognitive skills, noncognitive skills, and managerial practices, for a large sample of female entrepreneurs in Mexico. Descriptive results show that on average opportunity entrepreneurs have better performance and higher skills than necessity entrepreneurs. A discriminant analysis reveals that discrimination is difficult to achieve based on these observables, which suggests the existence of unobservables driving both the decision to become an opportunity entrepreneur and performance. Thus, an instrumental variables estimation is conducted, using state economic growth in the year the business was set up as an instrument for opportunity, to confirm that opportunity entrepreneurs have higher performance and better management practices.