This paper examines the impact of improvements in marketing skills relative to finance skills among small-scale entrepreneurs. It addresses three important questions: (1) What is the impact of marketing or finance skills on business profits? (2) How do improvements in marketing and finance skills respectively affect different business outcomes? (3) When are increases in marketing relative to finance skills more beneficial?
IGL Trials Database
IGL curates a database with randomised controlled trials in the field of innovation, entrepreneurship and growth. Browse our list of topics, see it as a map, or use the search function below.
We use a randomized controlled trial to demonstrate that inexperienced female microenterprise owners in a Kenyan slum benefit from mentorship by an experienced entrepreneur in the same community. Mentorship increases profits by 20 percent on average with initially large effects that fade as matches dissolve. We conduct a formal business education intervention, which has no effect on profits despite changes in business practice.
Examines a program in Benin that drastically reduces costs to formalize a business, while also offering tax mediation and training. Results forthcoming.
Differences in management quality are an important contributor to productivity differences across countries. A key question is then how to best improve poor management in developing countries. We test two different approaches to improving management in Colombian auto parts firms. The first uses intensive and expensive one-on-one consulting, while the second draws on agricultural extension approaches to provide consulting to small groups of firms at approximately one-third of the cost of the individual approach.
Almost all firms in developing countries have fewer than ten workers, with a modal size of one. Are there potential high-growth entrepreneurs, and can public policy help identify them and facilitate their growth? A large-scale national business plan competition in Nigeria provides evidence on these questions. Random assignment of US$34 million in grants provided each winner with approximately US$50,000.
We report results of a natural field experiment conducted at a medical organization that sought contribution of public goods (i.e., projects for organizational improvement) from its 1200 employees. Offering a prize for winning submissions boosted participation by 85 percent without affecting the quality of the submissions. The effect was consistent across gender and job type. We posit that the allure of a prize, in combination with mission-oriented preferences, drove participation.
Search costs continue to powerfully shape (and limit) the formation of collaborations between scientists. Formation of collaborations appears
to be highly sensitive to information-rich face-to-face interactions, which existing communications technologies may not sufficiently substitute.
We employ a discrete choice experiment in the employment process for a national call center to estimate the willingness to pay distribution for alternative work arrangements relative to traditional office positions. Most workers are not willing to pay for scheduling flexibility, though a tail of workers with high valuations allows for sizable compensating differentials. The average worker is willing to give up 20 percent of wages to avoid a schedule set by an employer on short notice, and 8 percent for the option to work from home.
It is well-established that the effectiveness of pay-for-performance (PfP) schemes depends on employee- and organization-specific factors. However, less is known about the role of external forces. Investigating the role of market competition on the effectiveness of PfP, we theorize that there are two counteracting effects – business stealing and competitor response – that jointly generate an inverted U-shape relationship between PfP effectiveness and competition.
A 5-day enterprise training programme for women in Kenya. Results forthcoming.
For young firms, the effect of business training on hiring a first employee remains ambiguous, and more research is needed to understand the relationships behind job creation by entrepreneurs.
U.S. intellectual property law is firmly rooted in utilitarian principles. Copyright law is viewed as a means to give proper monetary incentives to authors for their creative effort. Many European copyright systems pursue additional goals: Authors have the right to be named as author, to control alterations and to retract their work in case their artistic beliefs have changed. Protecting these “moral rights” might be justified by the preferences of typical authors.
A business networking programme on firm performance in China, and how groups composition and meeting frequency can facilitate trust and information flows. Results forthcoming.
Using a randomized control trial, we evaluated the effect of a financial literacy program on the level of debt and on formal access to credit in Chile. We use a sample of beneficiaries of a publicly run micro-entrepreneurship program. We evaluated the program using administrative data with information on the debt level, interest rates, and new loans provided by the formal sector. The program tends to decreased debt level in the short run while increasing the probability of having formal debt.
Entrepreneurial activity is an important source of innovation in information technology products and services. Prior literature suggests that IT innovators should be agile, adaptive, willing to change direction frequently, and acquiring the necessary resources to facilitate the change. Social networks have been suggested as essential for acquiring information and resources and therefore in facilitating the venture development process.
In the context of rug-making in Egypt, the opportunity to export provides evidence that learning-by-exporting occurs, and can lead to production quality and cost improvements.
This article studies technology adoption in a cluster of soccer-ball producers in Sialkot, Pakistan. We invented a new cutting technology that reduces waste of the primary raw material and gave the technology to a random subset of producers. Despite the clear net benefits for nearly all firms, after 15 months take-up remained puzzlingly low.
This study presents results from a randomized evaluation of two labor market interventions targeted to young women aged 18 to 19 years in three of Nairobi's poorest neighborhoods. One treatment offered participants a bundled intervention designed to simultaneously relieve credit and human capital constraints; a second treatment provided women with an unrestricted cash grant, but no training or other support.
Accredited investors finance more than 75,000 U.S. startups annually. We explain how training aspiring entrepreneurs to pitch their new business ideas to these investors affects their odds of continued funding discussions. We model accredited investors’ decision to continue investigation as a real option whose value is a function of their experience and the information contained in the entrepreneurs’ pitches. We derive four hypotheses from the model, which we test through a field experiment that randomly assigns pitch training at four elevator pitch competitions.
Can improved access to credit jump-start microenterprise growth? We examine subjects in urban Hyderabad, India, six years after microfinance–an intervention commonly believed to lower the cost of credit and spark business creation–was randomly introduced to a subset of neighborhoods. We find large benefits both in business scale and performance from giving “gung-ho entrepreneurs” (GEs)–those who started a business before microfinance entered–more access to microfinance. Notably, these effects persist two years after microfinance was withdrawn from Hyderabad.
How do different sources of social influence impact the likelihood of entrepreneurship? We examine this question in the setting of an entrepreneurship class in which students were randomly assigned to receive mentorship from either an entrepreneur or a non-entrepreneur. Using a longitudinal field experiment with a pre-test/post-test design, we find that randomization to an entrepreneur mentor increases the likelihood of entrepreneurial careers, particularly for students whose parents were not entrepreneurs.
In October 2014, all 4,494 undergraduates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were given access to Bitcoin, a decentralized digital currency. As a unique feature of the experiment, students who would generally adopt first were placed in a situation where many of their peers received access to the technology before them, and they then had to decide whether to continue to invest in this digital currency or exit. Our results suggest that when natural early adopters are delayed relative to their peers, they are more likely to reject the technology.
Standard business training programs aim to boost the incomes of the millions of self-employed business owners in developing countries by teaching basic financial and marketing practices, yet the impacts of such programs are mixed. We tested whether a psychology-based personal initiative training approach, which teaches a proactive mindset and focuses on entrepreneurial behaviors, could have more success.
While management styles and practices have been found to be important determinants of firm performance, there is far less evidence on the extent to which management matters for entrepreneurial ventures and whether founders can learn to be more effective managers.
Field experiments have the potential to provide unambiguous causal evidence on innovation topics while simultaneously assisting organisations with their innovation.
In the context of online developer tournaments this study found that added rivalry is likely to induce higher performance given that failing to exert effort will reduce the likelihood of winning a prize. Tournament organizers can leverage contest size, dividing competitors by ability, and opening entry to all, as policy tools to manipulate the performance of competitors, particularly when changes allow the reallocation of prize money.
Women may face more constraints than men to becoming entrepreneurs, but are not poor entrepreneurs. A potentially important factor limiting financial inclusion efforts is inadequate peer support among many women who have potential as entrepreneurs.
All creativity and innovation build on existing ideas. Authors and inventors copy, adapt, improve, interpret, and refine the ideas that have come before them. The central task of intellectual property (IP) law is regulating this sequential innovation to ensure that initial creators and subsequent creators receive the appropriate sets of incentives. Although many scholars have applied the tools of economic analysis to consider whether IP law is successful in encouraging cumulative innovation, that work has rested on a set of untested assumptions about creators’ behavior.
I use a field experiment in rural Kenya to study how temporary incentives to save impact long run economic outcomes. Study participants randomly selected to receive large temporary interest rates on an individual bank account had significantly more income and assets 2.5 years after the interest rates expired. These changes are much larger than the short-run impacts on experimental bank account use and almost entirely driven by growth in entrepreneurship.
This natural field experiment tests the effects of purely symbolic awards on volunteer retention in a public goods context. The experiment is conducted at Wikipedia, which faces declining editor retention rates, particularly among newcomers. Randomization assures that award receipt is orthogonal to previous performance. The analysis reveals that awards have a sizeable effect on newcomer retention, which persists over the four quarters following the initial intervention.