Call for papers: 3rd annual conference of the private sector development research network


The third Annual Conference of the Private Sector Development Research Network (PSDRN), organised jointly with the Centre for Development Economics and Policy (CDEP) at Columbia University, offers an opportunity to bring together Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), think-tanks, and donor agencies involved in private sector development with academics who study private firms and markets, from the fields of economics (such as industrial organization, international trade, and investment), finance, business, energy, climate change, and development studies. The conference aims to provide a forum to present and discuss research, data, analysis and evidence from DFIs, think-tanks, and academic institutions; to set the agenda for future research relevant to global development challenges and the work of DFIs; and to foster research collaboration between DFIs, think-tanks, and academic institutions. It is intended for researchers who are interested in influencing practice and who are curious about how practitioners perceive the problems that they face, and for practitioners who want to learn from researchers.

The event focuses primarily on the actions and behaviours of private firms, investors, and markets rather than on government policy. It is differentiated from other conferences because of the markets it focuses on low- and middle-income countries, but also the institutions it aims to engage in dialogue – DFIs, think-tanks, and universities with an active research agenda on private sector development. However, insights for policy
and regulation of markets and firms are within the scope of the conference.


This year’s conference will focus on private enterprises and environmental sustainability, bring discussions on how these issues are changing the landscape of firms in developing countries, the problems they face, and the solutions proposed based on past and recent learnings. These topics are central to the post-COVID-19 recovery and DFIs response.
Below is an indicative list of topics where we welcome contributions:

  • Measuring net-zero alignment – data collection, frameworks, challenges, and solutions.
  • Strategies and action for financial institutions to enhance and achieve net-zero portfolio
  • Technology, digitalization, firm innovations, and their impacts on environmental sustainability.
  • Firm performance and environmental standards. Standards’ design, their role in international
    trade agreements/supply chains, enforcement.
  • The role of women and women-owned firms in driving transition to green economy.
  • The role of DFIs in supporting greener economy.
  • Effectiveness of different financial instruments to support low-carbon investments by firms.
  • How green lending and financial inclusion impacts climate change.
  • De-risking strategies in clean energy investment.
  • Role of governments in facilitating green innovation in the private sector and private investment
    that supports climate-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Green data – frameworks for data collection and sharing.
  • Promoting sustainable supply chains – approaches, impacts, and lessons learned.
  • Environmental risk management and resiliency in private sector projects.
  • Building skills, managerial and organizational practices for sustainable growth.
  • Climate change adaptation and technological adoption.
  • Supporting green investments in fragile contexts.

Contributions on topics that might not be explicitly mentioned in the list but that are considered to contribute to the broad discussion outlined in this Call for Papers will be also welcomed.

Submission guidelines

There is no submission fee, and the conference will be delivered in hybrid format, in-person and online. Travel and in-person attendance will be conditional on restrictions and safety requirements adopted by Columbia University, the City and State of New York, and the Federal Government of the United States at the time of the conference.

Papers or extended abstracts should be submitted as PDF files to Irina Gnezdilova at no later than August 10th, 2021. Authors of accepted papers will be notified in end-August 2021. Preference will be given to completed papers or extended abstracts that include a detailed description of the following aspects: (i) objectives and research questions; (ii) methodology; (iii) data that will be used, indicating whether the team has already access to it or is in the process of collecting; (iv) preliminary hypothesis or conclusions of the analysis; and (v) research team.