Competitiveness Policy Evaluation Lab
About the Program

The Competitiveness Policy Evaluation Lab (or ComPEL) is an umbrella program to support and coordinate impact evaluation efforts in trade and competitiveness areas.

Its main objective is to generate high-quality evidence to inform policy making on firm productivity, job creation, and investment to continuously and systematically improve the impact of projects. This is achieved by using impact evaluations and inferential research strategically to (a) identify the features or mechanisms that maximize impact of existing programs; and (b) develop and pilot new policy solutions to expand the offerings of the practice.

ComPEL’s work plan is organized in three pillars of work:

  1. Strategic Research Knowledge
  2. Impact Evaluations
  3. Operationalization of Research Findings



The Competitiveness Policy Evaluation Lab follows a cluster approach to impact evaluation to determine the impacts attributable to programs of strategic importance in the area of trade and competitiveness.

The idea is to identify the mechanisms that increase the impact of our programs and at the same time push the global knowledge frontier on what works best to enhance the contributions of the private sector to economic growth and poverty alleviation.

Clusters of impact evaluations are identified through an extensive consultation process among government stakeholders, economists from academia, donor partners, and World Bank staff.

The following three clusters are currently under implementation: 




Connecting Businesses to Improve Market Access

Targeting Firms with 
High-Growth Potential

Improving Regulatory Efficiency for Firms

Firms can improve performance if new connections are made to other firms, whether they are buyers, suppliers, or peers. Linkages through export promotion, supplier development, or productive alliances are examples.

Interventions can have larger impacts if firms with specific characteristics are targeted. Scoring schemes to rank startups and business plan competitions are prime examples.

Government policies and projects that aim at improving firm outcomes, covering business environment, trade facilitation, and inspection regimes.

The following documents summarize existing research and identify evidence gaps on the impacts of trade and competitiveness interventions on key outcomes such as firm productivity and investment, and job creation - identifying relevant constraints, establishing what is known to work in addressing these constraints, and what remains to be learnt.

Some of these reviews follow the best standards for systematic reviews, such as those followed by 3ie, or the Campbell Collaboration, or those published in the Journal of Development Effectiveness.

Competitive Sectors | Cross-cutting Topics |Innovation and Entrepreneurship | Investment Climate | Trade and Competition | 

Competitive Sectors

Contract Farming
Nicholas Minot and Loraine Ronchi, October 2014

Food Safety Standards
Laurian Unnevehr and Loraine Ronchi, July 2014

Cross-cutting Topics

Learning from the Experiments That Never Happened Lessons from Trying to Conduct Randomized Evaluations of Matching Grant Programs in Africa
Francisco Campos, Aidan Coville, Ana M. Fernandes, Markus Goldstein, and David McKenzie, December 2012

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The Impacts of Business Support Services for Small and Medium Enterprises on Firm Performance in Low-and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review
Caio Piza, Tulio Antonio Cravo, Linnet Taylor, Lauro Gonzalez, Isabel Musse, Isabela Furtado, Ana C. Sierra, Samer Abdelnour , April 2016

Business practices in small firms in developing countries
David McKenzie and Christopher Woodruff, August 2015

Do Interventions Targeted at Micro-Entrepreneurs and Small and Medium-Sized Firms Create Jobs? A Systematic Review of the Evidence for Low and Middle Income Countries
Michael Grimm and Anna Luisa Paffhausen, May 2014

Firms capabilities and economic growth
Nicholas Bloom, Gregory Fischer, Imran Rasul, Andres Rodriguez‐Clare, Tavneet Suri, Christopher Udry, Eric Verhoogen, Christopher Woodruff, and Giulia Zane, December 2013

Entrepreneurship Programs in Developing Countries: A Meta Regression Analysis
Yoonyoung Cho and Maddalena Honorati, April, 2013

What Are We Learning from Business Training and Entrepreneurship Evaluations around the Developing World?
David McKenzie and Christopher Woodruff, September 2012

Investment Climate

The Impact of Investment Policy in a Changing Global Economy
Roberto Echandi, Jana Krajcovicova, and Christine Zhenwei Quiang, October 2015

Investment Climate Reforms and Job Creation in Developing Countries. What Do We Know and What Should We Do?
Aminur Rahman, September 2014

Entry Regulation and Formalization of Microenterprises in Developing Countries
David McKenzie and Miriam Bruhn, June 2013

An Open Door for Firms. The Impact of Business Entry Reforms
Marialisa Motta, Ana Maria Oviedo, and Massimiliano Santini, June 2010

Trade and Competition

Competition & Poverty: How Competition Affects the Distribution of Welfare
Tania Begazo and Sara Nyman, April 2016

Export Competitiveness: Why Domestic Market Competition Matters?
Tanja Goodwin and Martha Denisse Pierola, June 2015

Trade Logistics Reforms. Linking Business to Global Markets
Uma Subramanian, December 2012

Competition Policy (I). Encouraging Thriving Markets for Development
Markus Kitzmuller and Martha Martinez Licetti, September 2012


ComPEL hosts flagship impact evaluation workshops with the aim of helping participants:

  • Develop impact evaluation design and implementation plan.
  • Enhance the delegations' technical capacity on impact evaluation.
  • Build Trade & Competitiveness (T&C) impact evaluation community of practice with donors, practitioners, country representatives, and World Bank Group partners.

The most recent workshop was held in February 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. In leading up to the workshop, the ComPEL team conducted extensive consultation to decide on the three cluster topics as outlined in the impact evaluations tab. Details of the consultation and the proceedings of the workshop are featured in this brief. The content of the workshop including the agenda presentations of keynote researchers can be found here.

The previous workshop was held in May 2015 in Istanbul, Turkey. Co-hosted by ComPEL and DIME, the workshop focused on the cluster topics: grants, factors of production, and institutions. The content of this workshop can be found here.

In addition to the flagship events, ComPEL regularly hosts focused seminars at the World Bank Group in Washington, DC as well as in client countries, to disseminate lessons and findings from specific impact evaluations. Upcoming seminars will be announced in this page.