Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions
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Fields of Specialization
Development Economics, Private Sector Development
Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions
Externally Hosted Work
Last updated September 27, 2023
Elwyn Davies is an Economist in the Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions Vice Presidency at the World Bank, where he works on firm capabilities, productivity and innovation in a wide range of countries, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Eastern Europe. A Dutch and British national, Elwyn joined the World Bank in 2017 as a Young Professional. Elwyn’s research studies constraints to firm growth and productivity, in particularly the impact of management and incentives as well as the drivers to growth. Before starting at the World Bank, Elwyn worked at the Directorate-General for Trade of the European Commission and was a Lecturer in Economics at the Queens College, University of Oxford. Elwyn holds a BSc and BA from Utrecht University, where he majored in Physics and Economics, and an MPhil and DPhil in Economics from the University of Oxford.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 9 of 9
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-11) Abreha, Kaleb Girma ; Cirera, Xavier ; Fattal Jaef, Roberto N. ; Maemir, Hibret Belete ; Davies, Elwyn ; Maemir, Hibret BeleteThis 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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-01) Cirera, Xavier ; Cruz, Marcio ; Davies, Elwyn ; Grover, Arti ; Iacovone, Leonardo ; Lopez Cordova, Jose Ernesto ; Medvedev, Denis ; Okechukwu Maduko, Franklin ; Nayyar, Gaurav ; Reyes Ortega, Santiago ; Torres, JesicaRelying on a novel dataset covering more than 120,000 firms in 60 countries, this paper con-tributes to the debate about D policies to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic. While governments around the world have implemented a wide range of policy support measures, evidence on the reach of these policies, the alignment of measures with firm needs, and their targeting and effectiveness remains scarce. This paper provides the most comprehensive assessment to date of these issues, focusing primarily on the developing economies. It shows that policy reach has been limited, especially for the more vulnerable firms and countries, and identifies mismatches between policies provided and policies most sought. It also provides some indicative evidence regarding mistargeting of policies and their effectiveness in addressing liquidity constraints and preventing layoffs. This assessment provides some early guidance to policymakers on tailoring their COVID-19 business support packages and points to new directions in data and research efforts needed to guide policy responses to the current pandemic and future crises.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-10) Apedo-Amah, Marie Christine ; Avdiu, Besart ; Cirera, Xavier ; Cruz, Marcio ; Davies, Elwyn ; Grover, Arti ; Iacovone, Leonardo ; Kilinc, Umut ; Medvedev, Denis ; Maduko, Franklin Okechukwu ; Poupakis, Stavros ; Torres, Jesica ; Tran, Trang ThuThis paper provides a comprehensive assessment of the short-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses worldwide with a focus on developing countries. The results are based on a novel data set collected by the World Bank Group and several partner institutions in 51 countries covering more than 100,000 businesses. The paper provides several stylized facts. First, the COVID-19 shock has been severe and widespread across firms, with persistent negative impact on sales. Second, the employment adjustment has operated mostly along the intensive margin (that is leave of absence and reduction in hours), with a small share of firms laying off workers. Third, smaller firms are disproportionately facing greater financial constraints. Fourth, firms are increasingly relying on digital solutions as a response to the shock. Fifth, there is great uncertainty about the future, especially among firms that have experienced a larger drop in sales, which is associated with job losses. These findings provide a better understanding of the magnitude and distribution of the shock, the main channels affecting businesses, and how firms are adjusting. The paper concludes by discussing some avenues for future research.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-06) Aga, Gemechu ; Campos, Francisco ; Conconi, Adriana ; Davies, Elwyn ; Geginat, CarolinIn most countries in Africa, the informal sector is large and exhibits low levels of productivity compared to the formal economy: informal firms are typically small, inefficient, and run by entrepreneurs with low levels of education. This paper presents novel representative firm-level data collected on informal firms in the three largest cities of Mozambique, as well as data of microenterprises, formally registered businesses with less than 5 employees, the segment of the private sector that compares best to informal firms. Compared to formal microenterprises, informal firms sell about 14 times less, make 17 times lower profits and are 2–3 times less productive. Almost two-thirds (61 percent) of these performance gaps can be explained by differences in firm characteristics: informal firms are smaller and have limited skills, adapt fewer good business practices, use less capital and production inputs and are less likely to have access to finance. The rest of the productivity gap is explained by differential returns. Despite this “duality” between formality and informality, there is nevertheless a small but significant group of informal enterprises (7.6 percent of informal firms, representing 10.6 percent of employment in the informal sector) that in their characteristics and productivity levels are similar to formal microenterprises. Policies should take this heterogeneity into account.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-06) Aga, Gemechu ; Campos, Francisco ; Conconi, Adriana ; Davies, Elwyn ; Geginat, CarolinFirm capabilities—the abilities and practices to operate and innovate—are considered important drivers of firm performance. While the analysis of their importance is well established in developed countries, its study in the African context is more recent. The paper uses a new representative sample of enterprises in Mozambique comprising data on management and organizational practices, as well as skills, to study the importance of firm capabilities in Mozambique. The analysis suggests that the private sector in Mozambique scores below other developing countries in all dimensions of firm capabilities. Enterprises engaging in more contractual relationships demonstrate stronger firm capabilities. Firm capabilities are key drivers of performance; controlling for other input factors, firms in Mozambique with better firm capabilities perform better. The relationship is robust to various measures of performance and to including various firm and manager characteristics. The analysis finds that for smaller firms, non-exporters, and female-owned enterprises, their gap in business performance can be explained by differences in management practices. The results suggest Mozambique should explore mechanisms of expanding firm capabilities in targeted types of firms.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-10) Davies, Elwyn ; Iootty, Mariana ; Zouhar, JanConvergence of productivity of Czech firms towards peer countries is slow, especially for smaller firms. Czech labor productivity was 68.3 of that in Germany and the productivity gap is in particular large for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). MSMEs (defined as having less than 250 employees) form the backbone of the Czech economy, accounting for 67.3percent of total employment and 55.2 percent of value added (at factor cost) but face weak innovation demand and an unfavorable position in global value chains. The Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT) is developing a new Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Strategy and Implementation Plan for the period 2021-202no7 to boost firm productivity and competitiveness of domestic SMEs. MIT has requested support from the European Commission under Regulation (EU) 2017/825 on the establishment of the Structural Reform Support Programme ("SRSP Regulation"). The request has been analyzed by the European Commission in accordance with the criteria and principles referred to in Article 7(2) of the SRSP Regulation, following which the European Commission has agreed to provide technical support to the Czech Republic, together with the World Bank, to conduct analytical work on the status of SMEs.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-03-26) Frias, Jaime ; Shimbov, Bojan ; Davies, Elwyn ; Ek, ColinEvidence from several countries reveals that nations that have open economies tend to enjoy higher income than those with closed economies (Lind and Ramondo 2018). Openness to hosting multinationalfirms can lead to firms in receiving countries acquiring new technology and skills (Harrison and Rodriguez-Clare 2010), and to productivity-enhancing spillovers, particularly through vertical commercial relationships between foreign and domestic suppliers. Learning by exporting offers positive knowledge externalities, and it comprises myriad ways in which exports can stimulate growth in productivity, including development of exporter capabilities, such as marketing new products; upgrading product quality; and acquiring expertise in managing customer relationships by dealing with foreign buyers. The value from knowledge spillovers and the promise of job creation are often seen as positive externalities and are usually brought in to justify policy interventions in the form of tax incentives, grants, and other concessions (access to land sites at minimal or low cost). It is often thought that spillovers from foreign firms are driven by transfers of technology and by learning about markets by exporting. Learning from foreign buyers is supposed to be channeled directly to the exporters or passed through to local suppliers and competitors in domestic markets. There is some evidence that in Serbia, the international competitiveness of domestic exporters has been diminishing, and government programs to support links with markets receive meager financial allocations. Recent successes in exports of manufactures have revealed the great potential of Serbia, but these have been driven by only a few firms, many of them foreign-owned. This has lowered expectations of inclusive and widespread growth. There is also a growing sense that government efforts to promote exports and attract export-oriented investment in Serbia have instead been directed to attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) at the expense of export promotion, which has not been particularly effective. A looming question has become whether the current policy mix for promoting competitive Serbian exports needs realignment.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2021-09-15) Nayyar, Gaurav ; Hallward-Driemeier, Mary ; Davies, ElwynThroughout history, industrialization has been synonymous with development. However, the trend of premature deindustrialization and the spread of automation technologies associated with Industry 4.0 has raised concerns that the development model based on export-led manufacturing seen in East Asia will be harder for hitherto less industrialized countries to replicate in the future. Can services-led development be an alternative? Contrary to conventional wisdom, the features of manufacturing that were considered uniquely conducive for productivity growth - such as international trade, scale economies, inter-sectoral linkages, and innovation - are increasingly shared by the services sector. But services are not monolithic. The twin gains of productivity growth and large-scale job creation for relatively low-skilled workers are less likely to come together in any given services subsector. The promise of services-led development in the future will be strengthened to the extent that technological change reduces the trade-off between productivity and jobs, and growth opportunities in services with potential for high productivity do not depend on a manufacturing base. Considering technological change and linkages between sectors while differentiating across types of services, this book assesses the scope of a services-driven development model and policy directions that maximize its potential.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2023-09-27) Davies, Elwyn ; Deffebach, Peter ; Iacovone, Leonardo ; Mckenzie, DavidStandard in-person business training programs are costly and difficult to scale to the millions of microenterprises in the developing world. The authors conducted an experiment to test the feasibility, cost-savings, and impact of delivering live training sessions over Zoom to microentrepreneurs in Mexico and Guatemala. This paper demonstrates that it is now feasible to recruit and train self-employed women online, covering a wide geographic area, with few technology issues. However, the cost savings over in-person classes are less than expected. Training improved business practices and performance over two months, but the impacts had dissipated within six months.