Phase 2 Announcement and Schedule

I am delighted to tell you that the PEDL program has been re-funded by the UK Department for International Development for a further phase. The decision reflects both the quality of research PEDL funding has produced and our ability to demonstrate policy engagement and influence. We have continuously out-performed our expectations for research papers, publications and citations, reflecting the quality of the research. At the same time, we are delighted with the level of policy engagement that research teams have demonstrated. VoxDev’s launch in 2017 provides a new channel for reaching the policy community and taking research into policy. All of these accomplishments reflect the quality of the research community working on PEDL-related issues. On behalf of the PEDL team, I send thanks for your individual contributions to these successes.


While the extension provides continuity from an organizational and management perspective, the discussions with DfID did results in an evolution in the focus of the research agenda, building on the successful first phase of PEDL. The revised research focus is also described below.


The new phase of PEDL will allow us to have new funding rounds for both the Exploratory and Major Research Programs. In order to help with your planning, we have compiled a complete schedule for future calls is listed below. Of course, these timelines are subject to some adjustments as we move forward. There will be separate formal announcements for each of the Major Grant Calls, and the deadlines for the Exploratory calls will be posted on


We look forward to working with you in the coming years to continue to generate knowledge relevant for policy on private sector development in DfID-priority countries.


Chris Woodruff

Scientific Coordinator




Schedule of future PEDL calls for proposals:

Major Research Grant (MRG) program: Funding requests from £100,000.  Expected deadlines for proposals.


6th PEDL MRG Call: Deadline 31 August 2018, decisions 1st quarter 2019.

7th PEDL MRG Call: Deadline 31 May 2019, decisions 4th quarter 2019

8th PEDL MRG Call: Deadline 31 March 2020, decisions 3rd quarter 2020


Note: The 8th call is subject to available funding not being fully committed in the 6th and 7th calls.


Exploratory Research Grant (ERG) program: Funding requests with a limit of £40,000. Expected deadlines for proposals.


27th PEDL ERG Call: 30 June 2018

28th PEDL ERG Call: 30 September 2018


And continuing quarterly until June 2020 or all until available funds are fully committed.


Special Calls for researchers based in PEDL-target countries.


4th PEDL LIC researcher call: 15 September 2018

5th PEDL LIC researcher call: 15 September 2019


Calls for Scale-up of existing ERG-funded projects: Funding requests of up to an additional £40,000.


Deadlines concurrent with the ERG calls, until available funding is fully committed.




The PEDL Research Focus:

The agenda on private-sector development in DfID-priority countries is organized around four specific themes. The themes recognize both the now-significant body of research on some questions and the remaining gaps in other areas. For example, there is now a significant and still growing body of research on microenterprises, but at the same time, only a limited literature on high-growth micro-entrepreneurship. For this reason, we have revised the third theme on microenterprises to narrow the focus to high-growth entrepreneurship. Similarly, in the first phase of PEDL we received a large number of proposals on the cross-cutting themes of fragile states and gender, but a smaller number on social and environmental compliance. As these are important topics, not least as they relate to the creation of high-quality jobs, we have elevated social compliance and the environment to its own targeted theme. The result is an agenda which encompasses both continuity and change. The central issues of market frictions and international trade remain part of the core focus. Other areas evolve to incorporate a decreasing need to stimulate research on some topics but remaining gaps on other topics.


The four PEDL themes are now as follows:

  1. Market frictions, management and organizations. Well-functioning markets provide discipline for entrepreneurs, managers and investors. Competition increases incentives for efficiency and for innovation. But markets in LICs often do not function well. Weak institutions, missing information, and concentrated markets limit competitive pressure. Firms are often unwilling or unable to switch trading partners, undermining incentives. There are several key research issues embedded in this theme.
  2. Trade and macro models – agglomeration and spatial location of firms. The World Bank’s Growth Commission report notes that no country has enjoyed long periods of sustained growth without an active foreign trade sector. Evidence suggests that exporters and MNCs play a role in aggregate growth which is disproportionate to their share in output. First, MNCs, and exporters more generally, are a conduit for knowledge transfers that may (to varying degrees) spill over to the rest of the economy. Because export markets are highly competitive they provide very strong incentives for productivity improvements; because foreign consumers often have a higher willingness to pay for quality, exporters also face stronger incentives to upgrade both capital and labour used in production.
  3. High growth entrepreneurship. A majority of the labour force in LICs works in firms with fewer than five workers. But we know from both cross-country and time-series evidence that the process of development is associated with a decrease in the share of the labour force that is self-employed and an increase in average firm size. Most small scale entrepreneurs in LICs are motivated by subsistence, with little interest in or prospect for sustained growth. Microenterprises receive a substantial amount of attention from researchers, but only a small part of that research focuses on entrepreneurs with a greater potential for growth.
  4. Social compliance and the environment. Creation of wage jobs is an important outcome of a healthy private sector. But while creation of wage jobs is desirable, creation of desirable wage jobs should be the goal: jobs that are fairly remunerated with safe working conditions.


We believe that a key to drawing new researchers into topics of private sector development in DfID-priority countries is making relevant data more widely available. Of course, the data generated by any project must be made available to other researchers to the extent allowed by confidentiality or purchase agreements. But data generated by projects are not all equal in this regard. Where researchers can make a case that the data generated by their project is likely to be of particular interest to other researchers, we will consider providing additional funding to allow the researchers to make the data more accessible to the research community. For this reason we have added a cross-cutting issue on unlocking data.


The three PEDL cross-cutting issues are now as follows:

  1. Gender
  2. Fragile and conflict-affected states
  3. Unlocking data


For a more comprehensive description of the new research agenda, please click here.


The focus countries change slightly with the new funding rounds. There are now two tiers of priority countries. The first are those with existing DfID programs, and the second lower-income countries without a bilateral program. For a list of the DfID-priority countries, please click here. As previously, a preference will be given to proposals for research in DfID-priority countries. Proposals for research in other countries will need to provide both a justification for why the country is a preferred location for the research and a compelling case that the lessons from the research will be applicable to policy I the priority countries.