The Impact of Soft-Skills Training for entrepreneurs in Jamaica.

Last registered on November 09, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

The Impact of Soft-Skills Training for entrepreneurs in Jamaica.
Initial registration date
March 17, 2017

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
March 20, 2017, 11:16 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
November 09, 2023, 10:51 AM EST

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

World Bank

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Leuphana University and NUS Business School
PI Affiliation
Leuphana University
PI Affiliation
IDB Invest
PI Affiliation
IDB Invest
PI Affiliation
Caribbean Country Department, Inter-American Development Bank

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
A randomized control trial with 945 entrepreneurs in Jamaica shows positive short-term impacts of soft-skills training on business outcomes. The effects are concentrated among men, and disappear twelve months after the training. We argue that the main channel is increased adoption of recommended business practices, exclusively observed in the short run. We see persistent effects on an incentivized behavioral measure of perseverance after setbacks, a focus of this training. We compare a course focused only on soft-skills to one that combines soft-skills training with traditional business training. The effects of the combined training are never statistically significant
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

UBFAL, DIEGO et al. 2023. "The Impact of Soft-Skills Training for entrepreneurs in Jamaica.." AEA RCT Registry. November 09.
Former Citation
UBFAL, DIEGO et al. 2023. "The Impact of Soft-Skills Training for entrepreneurs in Jamaica.." AEA RCT Registry. November 09.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


We offer two 10-week, 40-hour business training courses.

The first 5 classes of each course focus on soft skills. In particular, on fostering personal initiative, a psychological intervention aimed at making business owners more proactive with respect to new ideas (Frese and Gielnik, 2014). The approach was hands-on with many examples from the local context and exercises related to the entrepreneur’s business.

The second 5 classes differ across treatment arms. In the “soft-skills” treatment arm, the second part of the course focuses on being persistent (learning from errors, anticipating barriers, dealing with setbacks, maintaining effort). While in the other treatment arm ("combined training"), the additional five classes cover material that is usually included in traditional business training courses (strategic management, stocking, financial management, record keeping, costing, customer care and writing a business plan).
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Business outcomes, soft skills, and business practices
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
We account for multiple hypothesis testing by using the procedure described in List et al 2016. Moreover, for each table, we create indexes for each family of outcomes (Kling et al., 2007).

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We conduct an RCT with two treatment groups and a control group, the first treatment group is offered to take a 40-hour course focused only on non-cognitive skills (in particular, on personal initiative and persistence), while the second treatment group is offered to take a 40-hour course combining both soft-skills training (with focus on personal initiative, but not on persistence) and standard business practices. The control group is not offered to take the training.

Randomization is at the individual level, stratified on gender, selected location of the training, education and having at least one employee in the firm.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization privately done by a computer, using Stata.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
945 microentrepreneurs
Sample size: planned number of observations
945 microentrepreneurs
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
315 microentrepreneurs
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Ethics Committee of Universita Commerciale "Luigi Bocconi"
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
No number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
February 28, 2017, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
June 15, 2018, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
945 entrepreneurs
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
691 (3-month follow-up), 562 (12-month follow-up)
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
217 control, 237 soft-skills training, 237 combined training (3-month follow-up) 185 control, 194 soft-skills training, 183 combined training (12-month follow-up)
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

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Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

There has been growing interest in approaches to business training that incorporate insights from psychology to develop soft skills associated with successful entrepreneurship. The empirical evidence on the causal effects of these approaches on entrepreneurs’ business outcomes is encouraging, but still not substantial enough to be conclusive. This study contributes to this literature by designing and evaluating two training programs, which are adapted to the Jamaican context. The first program provides soft-skills training on personal initiative, including the development of a proactive mindset and perseverance after setbacks. The second program combines soft-skills training on personal initiative with traditional training on hard skills aimed at changing business practices. Both programs are evaluated using a randomized controlled trial involving 945 entrepreneurs in Jamaica. Entrepreneurs are randomly assigned in equal proportion to one of the two training programs or to a control group. The research develops three survey instruments to collect information from entrepreneurs: a baseline survey, a short-term follow-up survey conducted 3 months after the intervention, and a second follow-up survey conducted 12 months after the intervention. Findings indicate statistically significant effects of the intensive soft-skills training, but not of the training combining soft and hard skills, on business outcomes in the short-term survey. The analysis of the data suggests that the main channel through which the intensive soft-skills training improves short-term business outcomes is an increased adoption of business practices. The positive short-term effects of the soft-skills training are concentrated among men and are not significant for female entrepreneurs. Neither the effects on business practices nor those on business outcomes are statistically significant in the second follow-up survey. However, the soft-skills training has persistent effects on targeted soft skills, which are measured with both self-reported and incentivized measures. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed in the paper.
Ubfal, Diego, Irani Arráiz, Diether Beuermann, Michael Frese, Alessandro Maffioli, and Daniel Verch. The impact of soft-skills training for entrepreneurs in Jamaica. World Development, 152, 105787, 2022.

Reports & Other Materials