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Measuring the Unmeasured : Combining Technology and Behavioral Insights to Improve Measurement of Business Outcomes (English)

Business survey outcomes for micro and small firms are notoriously noisy, with multiple sources of measurement and recall error. This paper introduces a new survey methodology that combines automatic consistency checks of electronic data collection with triangulation and dynamic adjustment to arrive at more precise estimates of business performance. The methodology uses insights from behavioral science to lower the cognitive cost of initial recall and establishes salient and relevant anchors to allow for dynamic triangulation and adjustment toward a final estimate. The validity of this method is field tested against traditional performance measures as well as administrative data across three emerging markets: Ghana, Rwanda, and Uganda. The results show significant upward adjustment from traditional measures for both sales and profits, a lower coefficient of variation in the cross-section, and higher autocorrelation in panel data. Comparisons with administrative data further confirm a higher correlation and closer magnitude relative to traditional measures. This research reconciles recommendations for increased attention to survey design with a method to leverage electronic survey technology beyond consistency checks.


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    Anderson,Stephen J., Lazicky,Christy Marie, Zia,Bilal Husnain

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    Policy Research Working Paper

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    Measuring the Unmeasured : Combining Technology and Behavioral Insights to Improve Measurement of Business Outcomes

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    Micro and Small Business; coefficient of variation; emerging market economy; panel data set; administrative datum; primarily due; business performance indicator; radio frequency identification; data collection activity; income generating activity; private enterprise; wages and salary; separate line item; cost categories; monthly profit; correlation coefficient; standard deviation; survey methodology; Emerging economies; emerging economy; electronic datum; initial value; adjustment factor; field experiment; survey design; firm sale; business cost; cost information; summary statistic; experimental treatment; survey questions; financial statement; firm growth; business partner; small-scale entrepreneur; self-employment rate; business profit; dynamic adjustment; survey respondent; income statement; data management; error correction; business premise; high correlation; multiple sources; financial activities; business service; financial skill; business finance; business expenditure; market setting; reference point; dynamic review; cost stream; field testing; development policy; open access; firm performance; electronic tool; woman entrepreneur; comparable data; high school; outstanding loan; technological advancement; longitudinal data; average sales; business survey; public good; financial details; conceptual framework; pilot testing; traditional methods; small sample; small entrepreneur; monthly salary; residual claimant; business expense; large business; license fee; business training; separate category; adjustment process; separate section; business data; cost component; supply use; real time; travel expenses; rental fee; home consumption; loss aversion; previous work; negative value; firm size; average profit; outcome measure; electronic form; data quality; evaluation study; performance data; baseline data; longer period; research assistance; distribution channel; comparative analysis; response rate; input cost; partner bank; survey instrument; opportunity cost; business partnership; human error; line revenue; net worth; respondent fatigue; input use; tax purpose; firm range; standard approach; firm survey; measurement error



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Anderson,Stephen J. Lazicky,Christy Marie Zia,Bilal Husnain

Measuring the Unmeasured : Combining Technology and Behavioral Insights to Improve Measurement of Business Outcomes (English). Policy Research working paper,no. WPS 8836 Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.