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Statistical Regularities in the Evolution of Industries. A Guide through Some Evidence and Challenges for the Theory

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  • Dosi Giovanni

Abstract

Fundamental drivers of the evolution of contemporary economies are the activities of search, discovery and economic exploitation of new products, new production processes, new organizational arrangements within and amongst business firms. What are their marks in terms of statistical properties that such processes display? Three basic questions in particular are addressed in this work. First, are there distinct characteristics of the microentities (in primis, business firms) and their distributions which systematically persist over time? Second, how do such characteristics within the population of competing firms affect their relative evolutionary success over time? And in particular what are the ultimate outcomes in terms of growth and profitability performances? Third, amongst the foregoing statistical properties and relations between them, which ones are invariant across industries, and, conversely, which ones depend on the technological and market characteristics of particular sectors? In order to address these questions we proceed in a sort of "inductive" manner. I start by examining some basic features of the distributions of firms sizes, growth rates and profitability. Next, I consider some evidence on the underlying inter-firm heterogeneity - particularly with regard to technological innovativeness and productivity - and their relationships with corporate performances. Finally, the work recalls the basic elements of an evolutionary interpretation of the evidence. Together with important points of corroboration of such a view - including those regarding a profound heterogeneity of firms at all levels of observation - one also facing standing challenges in primis, concerning the purported role of markets as effective selection devices.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Società editrice il Mulino in its journal L'industria.

Volume (Year): (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 185-220

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Handle: RePEc:mul:j0hje1:doi:10.1430/27262:y:2008:i:2:p:185-220

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Keywords: Industrial Structures; Industrial Evolution; Size Distributions; Growth Rates; Heterogeneity; Fat Tails; Market Selection;

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References

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  1. Giulio Bottazzi & E. Cefis & Giovanni Dosi & Angelo Secchi, 2003. "Invariances and diversities in the evolution of manufacturing industries," Working Papers 03-17, Utrecht School of Economics.
  2. Cabral, Luís M B & Mata, José, 2001. "On the Evolution of the Firm Size Distribution: Facts and Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 3045, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Nunes Amaral, Luís A & Buldyrev, Sergey V & Havlin, Shlomo & Maass, Philipp & Salinger, Michael A & Eugene Stanley, H & Stanley, Michael H.R, 1997. "Scaling behavior in economics: The problem of quantifying company growth," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 244(1), pages 1-24.
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Cited by:
  1. Flora Bellone & Patrick Musso & Lionel Nesta & Michel Quéré, 2006. "Productivity and Market Selection of French Manufacturing Firms in the Nineties," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2006-04, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
  2. Jeong-Dong Lee, 2009. "Industry Dynamics and Productivity Research," TEMEP Discussion Papers 200929, Seoul National University; Technology Management, Economics, and Policy Program (TEMEP), revised Nov 2009.
  3. Giulio Bottazzi, 2007. "On the Irreconcilability of Pareto and Gibrat Laws," LEM Papers Series 2007/10, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  4. Coad, Alex, 2007. "Testing the principle of `growth of the fitter': The relationship between profits and firm growth," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 370-386, September.
  5. Coad, Alex, 2010. "Neoclassical vs evolutionary theories of financial constraints: Critique and prospectus," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 206-218, August.
  6. Uwe Cantner & Jens J. Krüger & Rene Söllner, 2010. "Product Quality, Product Price, and Share Dynamics in the German Compact Car Market," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-024, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  7. Giovanni Dosi & Giorgio Fagiolo & Andrea Roventini, 2008. "The microfoundations of business cycles: an evolutionary, multi-agent model," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 413-432, August.
  8. Giovanni Dosi & Marco Grazzi, 2005. "Technology as Problem-Solving Procedures and Technology as Input-Output Relations: Some Perspectives on the Theory of Production," LEM Papers Series 2005/26, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  9. Sandro Sapio & Grid Thoma, 2006. "The Growth of Industrial Sectors: Theoretical Insights and Empirical Evidence from U.S. Manufacturing," LEM Papers Series 2006/09, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  10. Alessandra Colombelli & Naciba Haned & Christian Le Bas, 2011. "On Firm Growth and Innovation. Some new empirical perspectives using French CIS (1992-2004)," ICER Working Papers 07-2011, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
  11. Carolina Castaldi & Giovanni Dosi, 2007. "The patterns of output growth of firms and countries: new evidence on scale invariances and scale specificities," LEM Papers Series 2007/14, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  12. Martin Woerter, 2009. "Industry diversity and its impact on the innovation performance of firms," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 19(5), pages 675-700, October.
  13. Carolina Castaldi & Sandro Sapio, 2008. "Growing like mushrooms? Sectoral evidence from four large European economies," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 509-527, August.

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