212/2014 Suresh de Mel, David McKenzie and Christopher Woodruff
Previous research shows that capital injections lead to higher profits in microenterprises, but to little sustained growth. We conduct an experiment which provides overlapping treatments designed to provide capital, incentives to hire new employees and management training. Working with a sample of 1,525 Sri Lankan enterprises with two or fewer paid employees at baseline, we find that the treatments have largely temporary effects, suggesting that while they may speed convergence to a steady state, they do not appear to put firms on a different growth path. Wage incentives lead to higher levels of employment, but not to higher profits, suggesting that the typical firm does not face constraints to hiring which result in the marginal product of labor exceeding the market wage rate. We use data from surveys of wage workers and SME owners conducted at the same time as the baseline survey to estimate characteristics associated with entrepreneurial ability. We find that highability firms, if anything, benefit less from the treatments. The results are consistent with the view of the world illuminated by Lucas‟ 1978 model of firm size distribution.
Culture and Development