Enterprise Performance in Asia: Using firm-level data for Policy-making

Micro and small enterprises play a critical role in job creation and economic growth, but they make their most tangible contributions when they expand. In developing countries, however, the vast majority of micro and small enterprises never grow beyond a few employees, with many of them operate outside the formal economy. Still, a few high-performance small businesses have experienced rapid and substantial growth. Their expansion drives most of the aggregate growth in the small enterprise sector, particularly in fast-growing Asian economies.

Research has yet to establish the factors that explain why these high-performing enterprises grow so quickly. An obvious explanation is that good business opportunities appear as economies expand. Opportunities alone, however, are not sufficient to stimulate enterprise growth. Entrepreneurs must also have the skills, resources, and technology that allows them to seize good opportunities. In most cases, women have far less access to these things than do men.

This project, managed by the Asian Institute of Management's Policy Center in the Philippines, will examine the conditions that hinder or enable the expansion of micro and small businesses in emerging Asian economies. It will generate evidence at the enterprise level about factors that enable small businesses to grow, innovate, and withstand crises. Researchers will also look at the factors constraining growth of enterprises led by women, and the prevalence of informal enterprises.

The project will promote the use of enterprise-level data in public policy debates, and address three policy issues: obstacles, innovation, and vulnerability to crises. It will look at factors that influence opportunities and capabilities, especially for innovation, to find insights into policy interventions and development programs for micro and small enterprises. It will also build the capacity of researchers interested in enterprise behaviour, and will disseminate results to public and private sector audiences.

The project will launch an exploratory competitive call for 10 to 12 papers, including case studies, from middle-income Asian countries on the performance of small enterprises in comparison with larger production units, using enterprise-level data. The papers will be published as a special issue on enterprises and inclusive growth by the Asian Journal of Business.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Friday, May 25, 2012

End Date

Friday, July 25, 2014


20 months

IDRC Officer

Rodriguez, Mr. Edgard

Total funding

CA$ 502,300


Central Asia, Far East Asia, South Asia, Philippines


Employment and Growth

Project Leader

Prof. Ronald Mendoza


AIM Scientific Research Foundation

Institution Country


Institution Website