Three Crosscutting Themes

We will give particular encouragement to proposals which address issues of:

  • Fragile and conflict affected states
  • Gender
  • Climate, environment and social compliance

In the context of private sector development, these issues are most appropriately addressed by being woven into the research themes, rather than being specific themes themselves. 

Fragile and Conflict Affected States

  1. We view the issue of private sector development in fragile and conflict affected states as one with tremendous potential for innovative research. Recent studies suggest there is an important interaction between private sector development and the incentives of individuals to participate in civil conflicts. Growth is seen to increase an individual’s opportunity cost of participation in the conflict, and hence, to decrease levels of participation in conflict.
  2. The importance of the interaction between growth and conflict provides a very compelling case for supporting research in this area. Of course, private sector development is particularly challenging in conflict-ridden areas. A critical bottleneck to research on firms in conflict-ridden areas is the availability of data. But if researchers are able to overcome this issue, we believe there is tremendous potential for research on private enterprise development in conflict-ridden states.


  1. Gender issues are most obviously relevant for proposals related to small- and medium-sized enterprises. In SMEs, the identity of the owner is usually clear, and hence, differences between female- and male-owned enterprises can be examined. In MNCs and larger domestic firms, ownership is most often diversified and of mixed gender. Of course, in these larger firms, gender issues are very relevant for employment and management dynamics. Employment issues are a natural topic focus for GLM-LIC, a research initiative of DFID and IZA  in Bonn. The GLM-LIC research programme will naturally focus on employment / management issues, but for proposals for research on issues that operate at the level of the enterprise, PEDL will encourage proposals that take into account differences in gender.

Climate, Environment and Social Compliance

  1. Attention to environmental and social compliance may have implications for productivity and growth dynamics in LICs. In the first instance, compliance may increase production costs, making firms less competitive. But this initial effect on costs may also encourage firms to focus more carefully on productivity improvement.
  2. As we have noted, recent research suggests there is very large dispersion of productivity among firms in LICs, and great potential for productivity improvements. This interaction is an example of how we will encourage research which incorporates environmental and social compliance.