Enterprise Notes

Enterprise Notes are 3-4 page research briefings with concise empirical findings and policy implications. Below is the complete list of Enterprise Notes produced by the team.

Enterprise Notes Product year
  • Informal Firms in Myanmar

    Using survey data on informal firms in Myanmar, a number of issues related to firm-size, productivity, business environment, gender disparity and registration costs and benefits are discussed.

  • Legal Institutions and Women’s Employment

    This note explores the role of legal institutions in influencing women’s employment in private firms in developing countries.

  • Use of foreign intermediate inputs in developing countries: Determinants and effects

    This note highlights important findings on the use of imported intermediate inputs by private firms in developing countries. All the findings are based on firmlevel data collected by the World Bank’s Enterprise Surveys.

  • The critical importance of data collection efforts in developing countries: The case of gender

    The World Bank’s Enterprise Surveys regularly collect data on private firms in the developing world. This note highlights the critical importance of such collection efforts for a better understanding of important development issues related to the private sector. Specifically, this note considers female participation in management, ownership and workforce and how such participation correlates with various firm characteristics.

  • Does firm-size matter in the informal sector?

    Newly available data on informal firms in 11 African countries. The note explores the relevance of firm-size among informal firms. For example, compared with the relatively small informal firms, large informal firms are less productive, have more educated owners, show a greater willingness to formalize or register and are more likely to use banks and microfinance institutions to finance their day-to-day operations. Hence, policies aimed at the informal sector could benefit from distinguishing between small and large informal firms.

  • Avoiding crime in Latin America and the Caribbean

    This topic note analyzes crime measures for the private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean, comparing crime indicators across firm characteristics, across countries, and between regions of the world. How crime-related losses and expenses have changed over time and how these costs compare to losses due to insufficient electricity are also explored in this note.

  • Creating jobs and developing skills in Latin America and the Caribbean

    Creating productive jobs is one of the greatest challenges in any economy. The surveys look at which types of firms contribute the most to net job creation and at the relationship between job creation and productivity. The Enterprise Surveys identify the challenges facing firms when it comes to training and hiring, information that can be used to inform strategies to match worker skills with job openings.

  • Dealing with government in Latin America and the Caribbean

    This topic note analyzes regulatory burden measures for the private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean, comparing these indicators across countries within the region and across time. Related to regulatory burden, the incidence and depth of bribery are also explored. Corruption measures are benchmarked with other regions of the world which have comparable Enterprise Surveys data.

  • Women in private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean

    This topic note analyzes female participation in the private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean, comparing gender indicators across business sectors, sizes of economies, and between regions of the world. Differences between women-run and men-run firms are also explored in this note.

  • Presence of women in top managerial positions

    This note looks at the proportion of female top managers in private firms in 86 developing countries and its relationship with factors including country income level, gender disparity in education, firm-size, etc. The average proportion of top female managers is quite low at about 19 percent. This appears to be driven in part by gender disparity in education level and the lack of female managers in relatively large firms.

  • Innovating in the manufacturing sector in Latin America and the Caribbean

    This topic note analyzes innovation measures for the private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean, comparing innovation indicators across several characteristics, sectors, and countries within the region. The roles of firm size and exporting status as primary determinants of R&D spending are explored.

  • Obtaining finance in Latin America and the Caribbean

    This topic note analyzes access to credit for the private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean, comparing access to credit indicators across several characteristics, sectors, and countries within the region. How businesses have performed over time is presented, providing a detailed indication of the direction of several aspects of the private sector.

  • Mapping enterprises in Latin America and the Caribbean

    This topic note presents several indicators of the characteristics of businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean’s private sector. The note explores how those characteristics differ within the region and how the landscape of the private sector of the region as a whole compares to other regions in the developing world.

  • Measuring firm performance in Latin America and the Caribbean

    This topic note analyzes productivity and employment measures for the private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean, comparing these indicators across several characteristics, sectors, and countries within the region. How businesses have performed over time is presented in depth, over several dimensions, providing a detailed indication of the direction of several aspects of the private sector

  • Implementing Enterprise Surveys in Latin America and the Caribbean

    This topic note presents the standardized methodology and details from the implementation of the Enterprise Surveys in 31 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The note details several aspects of the surveys as well as basic analytical concepts that are used throughout the topic note series.

  • Total factor productivity across the developing world

    Total factor productivity (TFP) is a crucial measure of efficiency and thus an important indicator for policymakers. Using micro level data from manufacturing industries in 80 developing countries, this note analyzes TFP performance at the firm-level. This note also estimates TFP values obtained at the industry level.

  • Business environment perceptions in Afghanistan and Pakistan

    This note compares business environment perceptions using a unique panel data set of Afghani and Pakistani firms interviewed between 2007 and 2010. Survey results show that firm perceptions of the severity and priority of certain business environment elements have changed over time.

  • Comparing informal firms in Buenos Aires and Chaco

    This note highlights differences between informal businesses in two regions of Argentina—Buenos Aires and Chaco. Labor productivity is much higher in Buenos Aires than Chaco. This difference is partly due to higher sales and partly due to lower employment in firms in Buenos Aires. Relative to Buenos Aires, firms in the Chaco region are more likely to use machinery and vehicles in the production process and they also face larger seasonal fluctuations in sales.

  • Education and the structure of informal firms in Latin America

    A recent survey of unregistered or informal firms in Argentina and Peru shows that about 74 percent of the owners have a secondary or higher education. This note compares firms by the education level of the owners to assess how education affects the structure, conduct and performance of informal firms.

  • Gender and informality in Latin America

    Recently collected data on informal or unregistered firms in Argentina and Peru show significant differences between male- and female-owned firms.

  • Labor productivity, firm-size and gender: The case of informal firms in Argentina and Peru

    A commonly held view is that female-owned businesses suffer from many disadvantages compared to male-owned businesses. These disadvantages lead, in turn, to relatively lower levels of efficiency and smaller firm-size among female-owned businesses—the female-owned firms under performance hypothesis.

  • Research and development decisions during the crisis: Firm-level evidence for selected eastern countries

    Recent empirical work finds that Research and Development (R&D) expenditures, particularly from the business sector, tend to move in parallel with gross domestic product (GDP).

  • Challenges of retailing in India

    Using Enterprise Surveys data on 1,948 retail stores in India, this note highlights the key problems and challenges faced by retailers in 41 large cities of India. Inadequate power supply, access to finance, corruption, tax rates, and land-related problems are the most important obstacles to further growth.

  • Crime and security in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region

    About 20 percent of firms in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region are victims of crime during a year. While losses to firms from crime incidents average 0.5 percent of a firm’s annual sales, expenses by firms for security average 1.4 percent of their annual sales. These two costs, equaling 1.9 percent of a firm’s annual sales, are about eight times what firms spend on research and development (R&D) and 1.8 times the reported amount paid in bribes.

  • Difficulties in job creation and exporting

    Evidence from aggregate and micro-level data shows that globally engaged firms are better than firms serving only domestic markets in various performance measures. However, inefficiencies in the business environment can affect firms’ exposure to foreign markets. This note focuses on a particular aspect of business environment, namely, labor regulations, and analyzes their relationship with the decision to export.

  • Gender and informality

    From a sample of informal firms in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar and Mauritius, this note compares male- and female-owned businesses. We test a number of hypotheses discussed in the literature and find the following results. First, the female-owned business under-performance hypothesis is confirmed, but only for firm-size.

  • How do manufacturing and service firms differ within the informal sector?

    A comparison of service and manufacturing firms in the informal or unregistered sector in Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar and Mauritius shows that service firms are larger in terms of total sales and also generate more output per worker. They rely less on physical infrastructure and machines but more on human capital.

  • How firms in Eastern and Central Europe are performing in the post-financial crisis world

    Some informal or unregistered businesses are established to take advantage of business opportunities (opportunity firms) while others are established because the owner cannot find a satisfactory job (necessity firms). Comparing opportunity vs. necessity informal firms in Africa, this note finds that opportunity firms are more efficient and larger.

  • How firms in Eastern and Central Europe fared through the global financial crisis: Evidence from 2008–2010

    The latest data of the Financial Crisis Survey show continued negative sales performance, on average, but the general rate of decline seems to have slowed. Permanent employment remained somewhat depressed, with no country having regained its pre-crisis employment level.

  • International differences in entrepreneurial finance

    This note uses the standardized Enterprise Survey datasets to systematically study the use of different financing sources for young firms. We find that in all countries, younger firms rely less on bank financing and more on informal financing.

  • Necessity vs. opportunity entrepreneurs in the informal sector

    Some informal or unregistered businesses are established to take advantage of business opportunities (opportunity firms) while others are established because the owner cannot find a satisfactory job (necessity firms). Comparing opportunity vs. necessity informal firms in Africa, this note finds that opportunity firms are more efficient and larger.

  • The impact of the financial crisis on supply-chain financing

    Trade credit is an important source of financing for firms in emerging markets. In this note, we identify the firm and market characteristics associated with the extension of supplier financing. We find that firms that operate in more competitive markets and that are less credit constrained are more likely to offer trade credit to their customers.

  • The impact of the global economic crisis on the corporate sector in Europe and Central Asia

    Data from the World Bank’s Financial Crisis Survey show that despite the magnitude of the credit crunch, the majority of firms considered the contraction in demand to be the most important effect of the crisis on their business. In June/July 2009, the corporate sector’s debt-to-sales ratio was moderate. The share of debt in foreign currency was about 26 percent on average, with almost one-fourth of firms reporting a foreign debt ratio higher than 60 percent.

  • Trade performance in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

    In the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region, countries show great variations in their levels of openness and how intensively they trade. There is a strong and positive correlation in export and import market participation rates and a similar relationship between how intensively firms trade in each market.

  • Consumer behavior and competition in Indian retailing

    This note argues that consumer behavior may be as important as firm behavior for the level of competition in consumer industries such as retailing. Using data on 1,948 retail stores in India, the note highlights three important findings. First, the number of nonworkers in the household, a proxy for the time costs of shopping, has a large effect on competition.

  • Crime, security, and firms in Latin America

    Existing studies show that crime is more rampant in the larger cities and that wealthier individuals are more often targeted. Using Enterprise Surveys data for 14 Latin American countries, we find that one- third of the firms surveyed suffer from one or more incident of crime annually, which is roughly similar to the percentage of households affected.

  • Determinants of Doing Business reforms

    This note identifies the quality of democracy and the amount of natural resources as important determinants of Doing Business reforms. Reforms are more likely in countries with better democracy and less reliance on natural resources. Differences across countries in overall development as measured by income per capita; initial quality of business environment; and ethnic, linguistic, and religious fractionalization within a country have little to do with the proclivity to reform.

  • Entry regulation, labor laws, and informality

    Does the regulation of entry cause informality in the manufacturing sector of developing countries? This note presents evidence from India that suggests that a policy reform that lifted barriers to entry lessened informality. This reduction in informality was accompanied by gains in average labor productivity in the informal sector.

  • Foreign exposure and job creation

    In our highly globalized world, it is crucial for governments to monitor the flow of goods and services across their borders and to attract foreign investment. To be able to implement the most efficient trade policies, policy makers must understand the evolution of firms with foreign exposure.

  • Formal and informal microenterprises

    This note uses unique data from enterprise surveys in three African countries to examine the characteristics of informal and formal microenterprises. Entrepreneurs in the informal sector have different motivations for starting a business from their formal sector counterparts, with about twice as many informal entrepreneurs citing lack of alternative employment opportunities as their main motivation.

  • How are firms in Eastern and Central Europe reacting to the financial crisis?

    Since late 2008, countries around the world have been affected by the global economic slowdown. The Financial Crisis Survey measures the effects of this crisis on 1,686 firms in six countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Turkey. Survey data show that in these countries, the major effect of the crisis is a drop in demand. It is not a financial crisis - it is a demand crisis.

  • The effects of rigid labor regulations in Latin America

    Rigid regulations may prevent labor markets from being efficient. We quantify, for 14 Latin American countries, the extent to which rigid labor regulations affect both the hiring and dismissal decisions of firms. Making regulations more flexible would lead to an average net increase of 2.1 percent of total employment.