Business Advice

Business advice can help improve firm performance, particularly firm productivity and output

How to evaluate this policy

To help policy makers and programme managers improve evaluation and think practically about how they can get it embedded at programme design stage, we have provided a number of case studies across our policy areas. Below we give four examples where a business advice policy intervention has been evaluated for its impact on local economic growth. (Read about our approach to this policy here).

Each evaluation case study has met our minimum standard of evidence, which means it (at least) compares what changed for the businesses that benefited from an intervention with what changed over the same time frame for otherwise comparable businesses that didn’t benefit, or that received a different type of intervention.

The case studies below use two different approaches to achieving this comparison. Two studies use a randomised control trial (RCT), the gold standard of evaluation, and the other uses a statistical approach to try to ‘strip out’ the impact of the other factors that could have affected outcomes in both the beneficiary group and the comparator group.

Evaluation need not be a very technical exercise and it can be helpful to borrow from the approaches adopted in existing studies. Read more about how to evaluate, and why we think it can be helpful to plagiarise in our How to Evaluate series. You can also read up on a number of different evaluation methods in our scoring guide to help you both judge other evaluations, and make a decision about which method to use.

Case studies

Subsidised consulting services for SMEs in Mexico (RCT)

This study tests the impact of subsidised consulting services on outcomes for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Puebla, Mexico.  Read more.

Supporting unemployed people to start businesses (RCT)

This study evaluates two US projects designed to support unemployed people to start their own businesses: the Washington State Self-Employment and Enterprise Development Project (SEED), and the Massachusetts UI Self-Employment Demonstration.  Read more.

UKTI Programmes (statistical approach)

This study evaluates two programmes run by the UK Trade and Investment agency (UKTI). Aftercare which provides support from inward investors already in the UK and the Passport to Export service which supports domestic firms to increase their export activity.  Read more.

Regional Business Development Programme in Sweden (statistical approach)

This study evaluates the Regional Business Development Programme (RBDP) in Sweden. The RDBP provides support for SMEs operating in rural areas of Sweden.  Read more.

Best Practice Case Study – Export Promotion Initiative (RCT, SMS level 5)

This study evaluates the impact of an information intervention by UK Trade and Investment (the UK’s Export Promotion Agency, EPA). Read more.

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