fbpx Research Seminar: Self-Employment within the Firm | Harvard Kennedy School
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Date and Location

May 1, 2023
10:15 AM - 11:30 AM EST



​The Growth Lab Research Seminar series is a weekly seminar that brings together researchers from across the academic spectrum who share an interest in growth and development. 
Location: Online only/Zoom 
Abstract: In this seminar, Alessandra Peter, Assistant Professor of Economics at NYU will share her research with Vittorio Bassi, J. H. Lee, Tommaso Porzio, Ritwika Sen, and Esau Tugume on the internal organization of firms in developing countries and how it affects their productivity and optimal size. They collected detailed time use data for 1,000 manufacturing firms in urban Uganda and document limited within-firm labor specialization. Even in relatively large firms, entrepreneurs and their employees work on similar tasks. As such, firms resemble a collection of self-employed individuals who share a production location. To interpret the empirical evidence, they develop an equilibrium model of task assignment, firm size, and occupational choice. They find that barriers to labor specialization generate decreasing returns to scale at the firm level, which reduces the returns to entrepreneurial ability and keeps firms small in equilibrium. Given the internal organization of firms we document, benefits from alleviating any other frictions that constrain firm growth are muted.​

Speakers and Presenters

Alessandra Peter is an assistant professor of Economics at NYU, with a focus on Macroeconomics and Development. Her research analyzes constraints and barriers to firm growth in low-income countries as well as the effect of imperfect competition across firms on consumers in the United States.​


Additional Organizers

​The Growth Lab