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Helping Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises to Climb the Quality Ladder

Measuring the Impact of Quality Infrastructure

“The screen is yours…” At other times, the introduction of a speaker at a global conference would be very different. But in these times of COVID-19, we have to get creative – which is exactly what the Innovation Growth Lab did in transforming its Global Conference 2020 into a virtual taster event that comprised sessions on COVID-19 policy responses and a Research Meeting series. Part of this series was Florian Münch’s talk on “Helping SMEs Climb the Quality Ladder – but how?”. This talk revolved around “Developing expertise in quality assurance for the export sector”, a project that is being carried out by the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) and the Tunisian Ministry of Industry and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.

Florian Münch, a Research Fellow at the Chair of Innovation Economics at the Technische Universität Berlin, who is doing a joint PhD at the TU Berlin and PTB, is accompanying the said project as part of an impact study. He is doing this with Amira Bouziri, a lecturer at the Mediterranean School of Business and co-author of the above talk. What is unique about this Tunisian project is that one of its components is orientated towards the scientific analysis carried out by Münch and Bouziri – an innovative way of cooperation between industry, science and politics.

Münch and Bouziri teamed up to assess whether information, consultancy or co-financing could incentivize SMEs to pay for quality assurance services. Furthermore, they want to investigate whether quality assurance services improve the performance of SMEs, in particular in the fields of export and innovativeness. Following Münch’s talk, Ana Goicoechea, a Senior Economist at the World Bank Group, discussed the research design which she deemed to be “very exciting”. More than 30 researchers and policy-makers from around the world attended the virtual Research Meeting that took place on 18th June 2020.

The experimental approach to alleviating global poverty that gave Esther Duflo, Abhijit Banerjee and Michael Kremer the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2019 has been adopted here to the area of industrial policy – making this pioneering work. This fruitful cooperation is successfully demonstrating that policy-makers and researchers can collaborate to design projects that enable scientifically robust impact evaluation. The final results of the evaluation will be completed during the next two years and will allow policy-makers and donors in Tunisia – and elsewhere – to inform their SME support programmes with evidence.


Image © Rebecca Husemann