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Neoclassical vs evolutionary theories of financial constraints: Critique and prospectus

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  • Coad, Alex

Abstract

Empirical models based on neoclassical theory predict that if investment is sensitive to current financial performance, this is a sign that something is 'wrong' and is to be regarded as a problem worthy of a policy intervention. Evolutionary theory, however, refers to the principle of 'growth of the fitter' to interpret investment-cash flow sensitivities as the workings of a healthy economy. In particular, I attack the neoclassical assumption of rational profit-maximizing firms. Such an assumption is not a helpful starting point for empirical studies into firm growth. One caricature of neoclassical theory could be "Assume firms are perfectly efficient. Why aren't they getting enough funding?", whereas evolutionary theory considers that firms are heterogeneous and that not all firms should grow. This essay highlights how interpretations and policy interventions can be framed by the initial modelling assumptions, even though these latter are often chosen with analytical tractability in mind rather than realism.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Structural Change and Economic Dynamics.

Volume (Year): 21 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 206-218

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Handle: RePEc:eee:streco:v:21:y:2010:i:3:p:206-218

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Keywords: Financial constraints Firm growth Evolutionary theory Neoclassical theory Investment;

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Cited by:
  1. Daria Ciriaci & Pietro Moncada-Paterno-Castello & Peter Voigt, 2012. "Does size or age of innovative firms affect their growth persistence? Evidence from a panel of innovative Spanish firms," JRC-IPTS Working Papers JRC74052, Institute for Prospective and Technological Studies, Joint Research Centre, revised Sep 2012.
  2. Alex Coad & Rekha Rao & Federico Tamagni, 2008. "Growth Processes of Italian Manufacturing Firms," LEM Papers Series 2008/20, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  3. Alex Coad & Rekha Rao, 2010. "Firm growth and R&D expenditure," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 127-145.
  4. Filipe Silva & Carlos Carreira, 2011. "Do financial constraints threat the innovation process? Evidence from Portuguese firms," GEMF Working Papers 2011-10, GEMF - Faculdade de Economia, Universidade de Coimbra, revised Oct 2011.
  5. Filipe Silva & Carlos Carreira, 2012. "Financial Constraints: Do They Matter to R&D Subsidy Attribution?," GEMF Working Papers 2012-18, GEMF - Faculdade de Economia, Universidade de Coimbra.
  6. Segarra Blasco, Agustí, 1958- & Teruel, Mercedes, 2010. "Are small firms more sensitive to financial variables?," Working Papers 2072/151623, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics.
  7. Filipe Silva & Carlos Carreira, 2012. "Measuring Firms' Financial Constraints: A Rough Guide," Notas Económicas, Faculdade de Economia, Universidade de Coimbra, issue 36, pages 23-46, December.

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