Competitiveness Policy Evaluation Lab

About the Program

The Competitiveness Policy Evaluation Lab (or ComPEL) is an umbrella program under the Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Global Practice of the World Bank Group (WBG). It supports the use of impact evaluation clusters in advancing the global knowledge frontier on ‘how to achieve impact,’ building capacity of client institutions and WBG staff, and improving the quality of project design and implementation in the areas of firm performance and productivity, entrepreneurship, innovation, and SME finance.

Impact evaluations under the program help development practitioners, country counterparts, and partners to identify the mechanisms of impacts that work best and inform their decisions on project design, course correction, scale, continuity, selection of cost-effective solutions, and/or targeting.

The Competitiveness Policy Evaluation Lab follows a cluster approach to impact evaluation to determine the impacts attributable to programs in the areas of firm performance and productivity, entrepreneurship, innovation, and SME finance.

The idea is to identify the mechanisms to achieve more impact in key programs and at the same time push the global knowledge frontier on the contributions of the private sector to economic growth and poverty alleviation.

The selection of impact evaluations under a cluster is carried out through competitive rounds involving the identification and capacity building of candidate projects, the technical review and endorsement of detailed methodologies, and the provision of implementation funding to few strategic proposals. 

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 support, 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.

The cost of business compliance with regulations can be lower with more efficient monitoring, information, and accountability schemes.

The following is a curated list of papers related to ComPEL’s focus areas, summarizing existing research and identifying evidence gaps.

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

Networks and Manufacturing Firms in Africa: Results from a Randomized Field Experiment

Marcel Fafchamps and Simon Quinn, Sep 2016

The Dynamics of Inter-Firm Skill Transmission among Kenyan Microenterprises

Wyatt Brooks, Kevin Donovan, and Terence R. Johnson, May 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

A Drop of Water in the Indian Ocean? The Impact of GlobalGap Certification on Lychee Farmers in Madagascar
Julie Subervie and Isabelle Vagneron, Oct 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

Supplier development programs and firm performance: Evidence from Chile
Irani Arraiz and Rodolfo Stucchi, May 2012

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

Investment in compliance with GlobalGAP standards: does it pay off for small scale producers in Kenya?
Solomon Asfaw, Dagmar Mithofer, and Hermann Waibel, 2009

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

High-Growth Firms: Facts, Fiction, and Policy Options for Emerging Economies
Arti Grover Goswami, Denis Medvedev, and Ellen Olafsen, 2019

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

Are Psychometric Tools a Viable Screening Method for Small and Medium-Size Enterprise Lending? : Evidence from Peru
Irani Arraiz, Miriam Bruhn, Claudia Ruiz Ortega, and Rodolfo Stucci, 2017

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

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 Srilankaf
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

Teaching personal initiative beats traditional training in boosting small business in West Africa
Francisco Campos, Michael Frese, Markus Goldstein, Leonardo Iacovone, Hillary Johnson, David McKenzie, and Mona Mensmann, 2017

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: Aug 26, 2019

Impact Evaluation Workshops:

ComPEL hosts flagship impact evaluation workshops gathering a large number of staff, country counterparts, researchers, and partners, with the following objectives:

  • Develop initial design and implementation plans for new impact evaluations through structured clinics sessions.
  • Enhance the technical capacity of staff and clients through training provided in methods sessions.
  • Bring participants up to date with latest research trends and results from relevant impact evaluations through policy and ignite sessions.
  • Strengthen the impact evaluation community on these topics through networking sessions.

Lisbon, Portugal May 31-June 03, 2022:

Athens, September 2019: Agenda

Mexico City, February 2017: Agenda and PresentationsConsultation Process Brief

Istanbul, May 2015: Agenda and Presentations

Paris, November 2012: Agenda