NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Catch-22 of External Validity in the Context of Constraints to Firm Growth

Greg Fischer, Dean Karlan

NBER Working Paper No. 20971
Issued in February 2015
NBER Program(s):   DEV   LS

We document the presence of multiple and varied constraints to small and medium firm growth. This presents both a practical problem for business training programs and a challenge to academic economists trying to identify mechanisms though which these programs may affect outcomes. External validity needs theory. This pushes researchers to narrowly defined and highly selected sample frames, which limits the potential for clear, generalizable policy prescriptions. Ultimately, larger samples, multi-arm evaluations, process documentation, and narrowly-focused, theory-supported empirical work are all needed, but the complexity of the problem limits what we learn from any single study.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20971

Published: Greg Fischer & Dean Karlan, 2015. "The Catch-22 of External Validity in the Context of Constraints to Firm Growth," American Economic Review, vol 105(5), pages 295-299. citation courtesy of

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