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Seed Research Library

The Seed research library serves as a resource for Stanford faculty and PhD students conducting work on poverty alleviation. The library hosts both in-progress projects and a collection of completed research project findings, including published research papers, video content, articles, and more. All researchers received funding support for their projects from the Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Developing Economies Award (I-Award) Program, the Global Development and Poverty (GDP) Initiative Award program, or the Discovery Awards Program.

Total Number of Records: 99

Displaying 1 - 10 of 99 Records

SCHOOL/DEPARTMENT: 
Economics
AWARD DATE: 
May, 2014
AWARD TYPE: 
Faculty GDP Exploratory Project Award
STATUS: 
In Progress

Rethinking the problem of refugees around the world

ABSTRACT: 

In partnership with the Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI), the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, Asylum Access, and the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR), I am starting a research project on refugees. The overall goal is twofold: to improve the lives of refugees and to advance our understanding of the phenomenon of forced migration. This project has the potential to be a large, long-term research agenda and to make an impact within Stanford, academia, and the refugee community.

SCHOOL/DEPARTMENT: 
Graduate School of Business
AWARD DATE: 
December, 2015
AWARD TYPE: 
Faculty I-Award
STATUS: 
In Progress

Disruptions, Operational Resilience and Performance: A Study of Micro-Entrepreneurs in Uganda

ABSTRACT: 

The lack of formal employment opportunities in poor economies lead to substantial early-stage entrepreneurial activity in these regions, generating income for the poor (Banerjee and Duflo 2007). These small businesses, however, tend to face frequent disruptions – including shocks that severely hinder business productivity, performance and survival. Indeed, many unpredictable events (such as sudden illness contracted by owner, accidental injury to an employee, unexpected fire or theft, abrupt supply or payment disruption) not only constrain business operations but also reinstate the cycle of poverty (Banerjee and Duflo 2007, Collins et al. 2009). This study aims to 1) identify and categorize different types of disruptions faced by micro-entrepreneurs in emerging markets, 2) estimate the effect of these disruptions on the survivability and growth of the firms, and 3) estimate the moderating effect of specific operational strategies that micro-entrepreneurs use to improve their resilience to disruptions. Through this research we aim to generate novel insights that can guide policies focused on helping micro-entrepreneurs strengthen operational resilience and overcome productivity shocks.

SCHOOL/DEPARTMENT: 
Management Science & Engineering
RESEARCH LOCATION(S): 
China
AWARD DATE: 
December, 2014
AWARD TYPE: 
PhD I-Award
STATUS: 
Completed

Emergent Issues in Private Family Business Research: Family Dynamics, Firm Strategy, and Policy Changes

ABSTRACT: 

This proposed dissertation project will examine issues at the intersection of economic policy, family business, and innovation, and entrepreneurship. For the aspiring entrepreneur in a middle- or low-economy, starting a business with one's family members remains one of the most accessible and viable options for overcoming poverty and creating wealth. Yet, despite the importance of family firms as an engine of job creation and economic growth, we lack a detailed understanding of how family firms behave in respond to policies and institutions at both the national and regional level. In particular, how the family aspect of family firms--such family dynamics and family roles--affect the way family firms respond to national-level policy shocks and interact with regional institutions is not well understood. I propose to address this gap by studying how family firms in China's Yangtze River Delta responded to China joining the WTO and how these firms build relationships with local governments. The overall objective of this study is to contribute an understanding of how family firms interact with their institutional environment at both the regional and national level. In doing so, I hope to contribute practical insights on how policymakers can design policies that support growth and innovation in family firms. I also hope to provide family firm executives with strategies that they can utilize to better navigate their institutional environments. Ultimately, the goal of this study is to contribute to our knowledge of how entrepreneurs and policymakers in middle- and low-income economies can utilize the family firm as a vehicle for innovation, economic development, and modernization.

SCHOOL/DEPARTMENT: 
Graduate School of Business
AWARD DATE: 
April, 2016
AWARD TYPE: 
Faculty Discovery Award
STATUS: 
In Progress

Identifying Potential Entrepreneurs: Evidence from Brazil

ACTIVITY SUMMARY: 

Who are the potential entrepreneurs that should be targeted in the economy? In this project we explore the Brazilian economy, for which we gained access to ample data on employees. We will try to identify who are the entrepreneurs that are likely to respond to opportunity shocks and take advantage of it by starting a new firm. We plan to examine the individual characteristics of these marginal entrepreneurs: what is their skill set, previous pay, access to finance, education, seniority in existing companies, employment status, gender, and other characteristics? How do individual characteristics interact with exiting firm characteristics and regional characteristics? In this data-intensive study, our goal is to understand which individuals, and under which circumstances, decide to become entrepreneurs, and who are the individuals that ultimately start a successful and sustained business. 

SCHOOL/DEPARTMENT: 
Economics
RESEARCH LOCATION(S): 
India
AWARD DATE: 
January, 2012
AWARD TYPE: 
Faculty I-Award
STATUS: 
Completed

Does Management Matter?

ABSTRACT: 

Across low-income populations in the developing world, individuals exhibit vastly different attitudes, mindsets, and behaviors in response to poverty ranging from defeatism and apathy to creativity and resourcefulness.  Through a behavioral study conducted in diverse contexts across rural India, we aim to understand and identify triggers and seeding functions leading to acts of innovation, activities that generate opportunities and pathways to upward mobility and self-efficacy.  To inform the design and deployment of this study, we propose an initial phase (Phase I), involving conducting preliminary fieldwork in India this December 2012.  This fieldwork will involve gaining initial insight into these behavior triggers through structured observations, melding viewpoints on the outcomes of the study with influential leaders in the development space, and establishing influential partnerships, including government officials and implementing partners. 

SCHOOL/DEPARTMENT: 
Law School
RESEARCH LOCATION(S): 
Argentina
AWARD TYPE: 
Faculty GDP Exploratory Project Award
STATUS: 
In Progress

The Rule of Non-Law, Impacts on Growth and Poverty Reduction

ABSTRACT: 

This capacity-building proposal is for interdisciplinary research that investigates the "rule of non-law" as an essential aspect of the alleviation of poverty in developing countries. The growth of SMEs and a host of other economic activities, especially as they serve populations living at the base of the pyramid, cannot await the development of OECD-level legal regimes. Our hypothesis is that they may be facilitated by strategies and techniques that do not depend on formal legal institutions. Understanding the ways in which such non-legal techniques can substitute for effective legal institutions, including effective and unbiased courts, is central to understanding and facilitating economic development and alleviating poverty in the poorest countries. Using mixed methods, we will examine the rule of non-law in six domains: contracts, impact investing, corporate governance, banking, constitutional design, and comparative legal institutions.

SCHOOL/DEPARTMENT: 
Earth System Science
RESEARCH LOCATION(S): 
Global
AWARD TYPE: 
Faculty GDP Exploratory Project Award
STATUS: 
In Progress

Climate and Global Poverty

ABSTRACT: 

Growing knowledge that the climate is changing has far outpaced our knowledge of how these changes might impact economic outcomes that we care about. Does climate change constitute one of the most important development challenges facing humanity over the next century, as is sometimes claimed, or is it a minor concern relative to other determinants of economic prosperity? Our proposed work will use modern econometric techniques and new data to quantify how poverty has responded to historical shifts in climate over the last half century, and use these estimates to inform projections of how future changes in climate could shape the number and location of the poor over the decades to come. The goal is to build a quantitative understanding of how much we should care about climate as a determinant of global poverty, and to embed this research in an on-campus network of people working at the intersection of development and the environment - a network we propose to help assemble.

SCHOOL/DEPARTMENT: 
Graduate School of Business
RESEARCH LOCATION(S): 
Sierra Leone
AWARD DATE: 
November, 2014
AWARD TYPE: 
Faculty I-Award
STATUS: 
In Progress

The Economic Impacts of Ebola: The First 100 Firms

ABSTRACT: 

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa generated much speculation about the likely impact of the outbreak and accompanying containment measures on growth, and on what constitutes the appropriate policy response.  Much of this speculation, however, has been based on little quantitative data. Our research objective is thus to quantify the cost of the outbreak on firms, and unpack the channels of the effect – for example untangling the effects of depressed consumer demand, trade restrictions, and capital and labor market disruptions. The SEED-sponsored 1st 100 Firms enabled us to launch this project as the outbreak was unfolding, surveying firms as they coped with the rapidly changing economic environment.  The pilot contributes to a larger research agenda exploring the private sector in Sierra Leone and evaluating what kinds of interventions might effectively contribute to economic reconstruction after the disease is contained.

SCHOOL/DEPARTMENT: 
Graduate School of Business
RESEARCH LOCATION(S): 
Sierra Leone
AWARD DATE: 
September, 2012
AWARD TYPE: 
Faculty I-Award
STATUS: 
Completed

Governance Innovations in Sierra Leone

ABSTRACT: 

Candidate debates have rich historical roots, offer a unique communication platform, and have become integral to contemporary campaign strategy. There is, however, no definitive evidence of whether they affect actual voting behavior. The relative scarcity of political information in the developing world offers an attractive testing ground, where the effects of debates could be more pronounced, persistent and directly linked to electoral outcomes. We experimentally manipulate citizen exposure to debates in Sierra Leone to measure their impacts on, and the interconnections between, voter behavior, campaign spending, and the performance of elected politicians. We find positive impacts on citizen political knowledge, policy alignment and votes cast on Election Day. We then document an endogenous response by participating candidates, who increased campaign expenditure in communities where debate videos were screened in large public gatherings. Over the longer term, we find that debate participation enhanced the subsequent accountability of elected Parliamentarians, who demonstrated greater constituency engagement and development expenditure over their first year in office. To unpack causal mechanisms, individual treatments disentangle the effects of general political knowledge from the information conveyed about candidate persona, and find that both matter. Overall, the experiments speak to the central question in political economy of whether elections effectively discipline politicians, and show how information provision can trigger a chain of events that ultimately influences policy.

SCHOOL/DEPARTMENT: 
Economics
RESEARCH LOCATION(S): 
India
AWARD DATE: 
June, 2014
AWARD TYPE: 
Faculty I-Award
STATUS: 
Completed

Savings Monitor: Deploying Local Social Networks to Mobilize Savings

ABSTRACT: 

In the developing world, increasing an entrepreneur's capacity to save can have large effects on asset accumulation and other business outcomes. Moreover, cash savings can provide a buffer, so that business assets need not be liquidated during adverse shocks. Households in rural India have ubiquitous access to bank branches. Nevertheless, a huge segment of the population remains unbanked. Moreover, when they do maintain a savings account, individuals are very bad at meeting their own savings goals -- a consequence of time inconsistency and other behavioral biases. Putting off savings for tomorrow always seems desirable.We explore two interventions to help to individuals potentially overcome these behavioral biases and increase their savings balances. To do this, we design a financial product based on a business correspondents model, which will harness peer monitoring to help encourage entrepreneurs to meet their savings targets over a half-year horizon. Specifically, some savers in our experiment are assigned (or choose) monitors from their community who are made aware on a regular basis of the saver's progress towards his/her goal. We ask whether having a monitor substitutes for a formal commitment device and, moreover, whether some community members are better than the other at encouraging responsible financial behavior. Ultimately, we hypothesize that individuals who are given monitors will better reach their targets and accumulate more business assets.To implement the core experiment, we obtained funding from numerous sources. SEED funding is needed to complete the final stages of the core experiment and to support the final endline collection of business data.

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