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Firms and Global Productivity

Businesses play an important role in economic growth. Their ability to operate efficiently and to create well-paying jobs are crucial to building healthy, sustainable economies and to alleviating poverty. Yet, the lack of high-quality, in-depth data on businesses and workers has limited what is known about private-sector productivity throughout the developing world.

The Firms and Global Productivity initiative at the Stanford Center on Global Poverty and Development is a research and policy program that seeks to support and sustain rigorous, data-driven analyses of the factors underlying business productivity and to provide insights that can lead to growth-promoting policies and practices worldwide.

The Initiative also fosters idea-sharing and collaboration by bringing together academics with expertise in multiple disciplines, policymakers, and business leaders in an ongoing series of workshops, conferences, and special events at Stanford.

Two large-scale research projects that are the first of their kind reflect the Initiative’s mission: The Chinese Employer-Employee Survey and the Indian Firms Survey. Each analysis collects detailed data on thousands of local businesses and their workers and, as a result, is shedding new light on a broad range of productivity-related issues. These high-quality datasets will be accessible to policymakers and researchers worldwide, thereby enabling novel studies of both economies.

Insights gained from the surveys are enhancing the understanding of:

  • Economics of management. Data reveal large differences in business management practices between developed and developing countries. Both surveys provide evidence for why these disparities exist and guidance on the design of trade, education, and labor policies that raise management quality.
  • Sources of innovation. New ideas play an important role in boosting productivity across developing economies. To help policymakers pinpoint sources of innovation, the China and India studies each examine whether established companies or new entrants are driving growth and development in those countries.
  • Labor shifts. Rising or falling wages, changing skill sets, and job mobility all have a significant impact on the productivity of businesses and of economies at large. In China and India, data on these and other workplace issues are highlighting the challenges these economies face and the policies needed to address them.

For more information about the Firms and Global Productivity initiative, please contact Jessica Leino at jleino@stanford.edu.