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.

Connecting business to improve market access | Targeting firms with high growth potential |Improving regulatory efficiency for firms | Cross-cutting areas |


Connecting business to improve market access

Information, Perception and Exporting – Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial
H. Breinlich, D. Donaldson, P.J. Nolen and G. Wright, July 2017

Vertical Integration and Relational Contracts: Evidence from the Costa Rica Coffee Chain
Rocco Macchiavello and Josepa Miquel-Florensa, February 2017

Interfirm Relationships and Business Performance
Jing Cai and Adam Szeidl, December, 2016

The value of Face-to-face: Search and contracting problems in Nigerian Trade
Meredith Startz, November 2016

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

Searching for Trade Partners in Developing Countries: Testing Firms in the ‘Fast Fashion’ Industry
Julia Cajal Grossi, January 2016

It Takes Two: Experimental Evidence on Technology Diffusion
Morgan Hardy and Jamie McCasland, November 2015

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

Exporting and Firm Performance: Evidence from a Randomized Trial
David Atkin, Amit A. Khandelwal and Adam Osman, November 2014

Poultry in Motion: Study of International Trade Finance Practices
Pol Antras and C. Fritz Foley, May 2014

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

The Value of Relationships: Evidence from a Supply Shock to Kenya Rose Exports
Rocco Macchiavello and Ameet Morjaria, June 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

Development Uncorked: Reputation Acquisition in the New Market for Chilean Wines in the UK
Rocco Macchiavello, June 2010

Finding Missing Markets (and a disturbing epilogue): Evidence from an Export Crop Adoption and Marketing Intervention in Kenya
Nava Ashraf, Xavier Gine and Dean Karlan, January, 2008

Targeting firms with high growth potential

Labour Regulation and Demand for Workers in South Africa (website)
Marriane Bertrand and Breno Crepon

Identifying and Spurring High-Growth Entrepreneurship: Experimental Evidence from a Business Plan Competition
David McKenzie, August 2017

How Effective are Active Labour Market Policies in Developing Countries? A Critical Review of Recent Evidence
David McKenzie, March 2017

Targeting High Ability Entrepreneurs using Community Information: Mechanism Design in the Field
Reshmaan Hussam, Natalia Rigol and Benjamin Roth, November 2016

Do Wages provide a Stepping-stone to Employment for Recent College Graduates?
Matthew Groh, Nandini Krishnan, David McKenzie and Tara Vishwanath, July 2016

Identifying Gazelles: Expert Panels vs. Surveys as a Means to Identify Firms with Rapid Growth Potential
Marcel Fafchamps and Christopher Woodruff, April 2016

The Life Cycle of Plants in India and Mexico
Chang Tai-Hsieh and Peter J. Klenow, August, 2014

Does Management Matter? Evidence from India
Nicholas Bloom, Benn Eifert, Aparjit Mahajan, David McKenzie and John Roberts, January 2013

One-Time Transfers of Cash or Capital Have Long Lasting Effects on Micro-enterprises in Srilanka
Suresh De Mel, David McKenzie and Christopher Woodruff, February 2012

High-Growth Enterprises
OECD, 2010

Improving regulatory efficiency for firms

E- Governance, Accountability and Leakage in Public Programs: Experimental Evidence from a Financial Management Reform in India
Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, Clement Imbert, Santhosh Mathew and Rohini Pande, November 2016

Procuring Firm Growth: The Effects of Government Purchases on Firm Dynamics
Claudio Ferraz, Frederico Finan and Dimitri Szerman, February 2016

Building Safety Inspections and Audits in Peru: An Impact Evaluation (website)
Paul Gertler and Ana Goicoechea, 2017

The Value of Regulatory Discretion: Estimates from Environmental Inspections in India
Esther Duflo, Michael Greenstone, Rohini Pande and Nicholas Ryan, October 2014

The Life Cycle of Plants in India and Mexico
Chang Tai-Hsieh and Peter J. Klenow, August, 2014

Building State Capacity: Evidence from Biometric Smartcards in India
Karthik Murlidharan, Paul Niehuas and Sandip Suktankar, March 2014

Investment Climate Reforms and Job Creation in Developing Countries. What Do We Know and What Should We Do?
Aminur Rahman, August 2013

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

SMEs Registration: Evidence from a RCT in Bangladesh
Giacomo De Giorgi and Aminur Rehman, June 2013

A Helping Hand or Long Arm of the Law? Experimental Evidence on What Governments Can Do to Formalize Firms
Gustavo Henrique de Andrade, Miriam Bruhn and David McKenzie, May 2013

Audit Risk and Risk Extraction: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Brazil
Yves Zamboni and Stephan Litschig, January 2013

Doing Business 2013: Smarter Regulations for Small and Medium Size Enterprises
World Bank Group, 2013

Incentives Work: Getting Teachers to Come to School
Esther Dulfo, Rema Hanna and Stephen P. Ryan, June 2012

Can Institutions be Reformed from Within? Experimental Evidence from the Rajasthan Police
Abhijit V. Banerjee, Raghabendra Chattopadhyay, Esther Duflo, Daniel Keniston and Nina Singh, April 2012

The Causal Effects of An Industrial Policy
Chiara Criscuolo, Ralf Martin, Henry Overman and John Van Reenen, February 2012

Monitoring Corruption: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia
Benjamin A. Olken, 2007

Cross-cutting areas

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


Last Updated: Feb 27, 2018

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 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.