Top-down vs bottom-up approaches to remote business training

Last registered on August 04, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Top-down vs bottom-up approaches to remote business training
Initial registration date
October 01, 2021

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
October 05, 2021, 11:26 AM EDT

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

Last updated
August 04, 2023, 1:34 PM EDT

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
World Bank
PI Affiliation
World Bank
PI Affiliation
Boston University

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Recent meta-analyses have shown that business training can deliver improvements in business practices and business performance for small firms. However, one of the challenges is how to scale such programs in a cost-effective manner. We investigate the extent to which training can be remotely taught to small groups via Zoom sessions, with a sample of female microenterprise owners recruited from throughout Mexico and Guatemala. We test two approaches to delivering training content. The first is a standard top-down structure, where the training organization determines which topics should be taught and training is completely instructor-led. The second is a bottom-up approach, in which participants collectively help determine both the topics covered, and also share their own experiences along with the teaching of the instructor. A control group is offered online access to course material with no live instruction.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Davies, Elwyn et al. 2023. "Top-down vs bottom-up approaches to remote business training." AEA RCT Registry. August 04.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


The participants assigned to the two treatment groups are enrolled in a course delivered through Zoom, which includes two two-hour sessions per week, spanning four weeks in total. There are two treatments:
Top-down treatment: participants receive the standard version of the course, with a pre-determined curriculum
Bottom-up treatment: participants decide together which modules of the course the instructor should prioritize, based on the specific needs their business is facing.

The control group is provided with access to online course materials, but no live instruction.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The following key outcomes will be defined in a pre-analysis plan:
1. Business practices
2. Personal initiative
3. Index of doing something new in the business (pivoting, innovation, digital changes)
4. Firm performance (sales and profits)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Firms are recruited in batches, and then randomized at the individual level into one of three groups with equal probability: top-down training, bottom-up training, and a control group. Two follow-up surveys are then collected at approximately one month and six months after training.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization is done privately in recruitment batches by computer, stratifying on country, business practices, and sales level.
Randomization Unit
Individual-level randomization of firms
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Approximately 2,000 firms
Sample size: planned number of observations
2,000 firms
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Firms are assigned with equal probability to the different treatments, so there should be approximately 650 firms in each treatment group and 650 in the control group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Human Subjects Committee for Innovations for Poverty Action IRB-USA
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents

Pre-analysis plan version 1


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
December 15, 2021, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
July 31, 2022, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
2208 entrepreneurs: 695 control, 1513 treatment
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
1592 at 2 month follow-up
1613 at 6 month follow-up
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials

Populated PAP
Davies, Elwyn et al. 2023. "Top-down vs bottom-up approaches to remote business training." AEA RCT Registry. August 04. 2023. "Registration Entry Title: Populated PAP." AEA RCT Registry. August 04
Submitted PAP.pdf

MD5: bbd6a54462537a863bd83db853934bb9

SHA1: d3f4159c6650e36efe502c1bd79c185573de04bb

Uploaded At: August 04, 2023