Returns to Consulting for SMEs
Last registered on July 08, 2014

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Returns to Consulting for SMEs
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0000175
Initial registration date
July 08, 2014
Last updated
July 08, 2014 9:49 AM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Northwestern University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
London School of Economics
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2011-08-01
End date
2012-05-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This pilot study evaluates the impact of business skills training offered to owners and managers of SMEs in Metro Manila, Philippines. Human capital constraints can hinder firm growth, and might be even more severe than financial constraints if having adequate managerial skills in place is a prerequisite for accessing other resources. However, the market for business skills training is prone to under-investment. This pilot looked at the various constraints hindering SME growth and at whether graduate business students providing consulting services to small business can be an effective conduit for skill transfer. Registered businesses in Makati City meeting basic eligibility criteria were invited to receive free business consulting services provided by graduate students at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM). Business owners expressing interest in the consulting program were randomly assigned to receive consulting or to serve as a comparison. Businesses in the treatment group met regularly with their student-consultants over the course of two months and attended a business skills training workshop. Consultants worked with their client firms on identifying the key constraints to firm growth as well as on strategies and recommendations for overcoming those constraints.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Fischer, Greg and Dean Karlan. 2014. "Returns to Consulting for SMEs." AEA RCT Registry. July 08. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/175/history/2112
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Firms are randomly assigned to receive business consulting by Master's students at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM). The students enrolled in a "consulting practicum" course, which provided guidance and support with their consulting assignments. Pairs of students met with their randomly assigned client firms over the course of two and a half months, and students also designed and led a full-day business skills workshop for treatment firms.
Intervention Start Date
2011-10-01
Intervention End Date
2011-12-03
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Firm revenues and profits; employment; changes to business practices (marketing, record keeping).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Firms meeting basic eligibility criteria, such as number of years in operation and minimum number of employees, are randomly assigned to receive consulting services or to not receive any consulting from AIM students.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by computer (Stata).
Randomization Unit
Firms
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
85 firms
Sample size: planned number of observations
85 firms
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
26 firms in treatment group (receive consulting from AIM students) and 59 firms in comparison group (no consulting).
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Innovations for Poverty Action IRB
IRB Approval Date
2011-09-19
IRB Approval Number
448.11September-004
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
December 03, 2011, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
April 01, 2012, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
26
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
78 firms
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
26 treatment firms; 52 firms control
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
No
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers