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Foreign Ownership and Productivity: is the Direction of Causality so Obvious?

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  • Luigi Benfratello

    (Ceris-Cnr)

  • Alessandro Sembenelli

    (University of Torino)

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano in its series Development Working Papers with number 166.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2002
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Handle: RePEc:csl:devewp:166

Note: The purpose of this paper is to estimate the e¤ect of foreign ownership on productivity under reasonable identification assumptions. In particular we estimate dynamic Cobb-Douglas production functions augmented with a set of variables capturing complementary characteristics of foreign ownership. We apply the GMM- System estimator developed by Blundell and Bond (1998) to a large sample of firms located in Italy. Our aggregate findings suggest that after controlling for unobserved heterogeneity, simultaneity and measurement errors, foreign ownership has no effect on productivity. Therefore we do not find widespread empirical support to the standard internalization theory of foreign direct investment. However, we also find that nationality matters since firms under US ownership tend to be more productive than firms under national ownership. In turn this additional result suggests that the transfer of knowledge implied by the internalization theory occurs only if the difference between the recipient and the investment country is suffciently pronounced.
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Keywords: multinational firms; total factor productivity; panel data;

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  1. Rachel Griffith, 1999. "Productivity and foreign ownership in the UK car industry," IFS Working Papers W99/11, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. Blundell, Richard & Bond, Stephen, 1998. "Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 115-143, August.
  3. Richard Blundell & Stephen Bond, 2000. "GMM Estimation with persistent panel data: an application to production functions," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 321-340.
  4. James J. Heckman, 1977. "Dummy Endogenous Variables in a Simultaneous Equation System," NBER Working Papers 0177, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Richard Harris & Catherine Robinson, 2003. "Foreign Ownership and Productivity in the United Kingdom Estimates for U.K. Manufacturing Using the ARD," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 22(3), pages 207-223, May.
  6. Richard Blundell & Steve Bond & Frank Windmeijer, 2000. "Estimation in dynamic panel data models: improving on the performance of the standard GMM estimator," IFS Working Papers W00/12, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  7. Vella, Francis & Verbeek, Marno, 1999. "Estimating and Interpreting Models with Endogenous Treatment Effects," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 17(4), pages 473-78, October.
  8. Girma, Sourafel & Greenaway, David & Wakelin, Katharine, 2001. "Who Benefits from Foreign Direct Investment in the UK?," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 48(2), pages 119-33, May.
  9. James Tybout, 1999. "Manufacturing Firms in Developing Countries: How Well Do They Do, and Why?," Development and Comp Systems 9906001, EconWPA, revised 10 Jun 1999.
  10. Conyon, Martin J, et al, 2002. "The Productivity and Wage Effects of Foreign Acquisition in the United Kingdom," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 85-102, March.
  11. Robert E. Baldwin & Robert E. Lipsey & J. David Richards, 1998. "Geography and Ownership as Bases for Economic Accounting," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bald98-1, octubre-d.
  12. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
  13. Steven Globerman & John C. Ries & Ilan Vertinsky, 1994. "The Economic Performance of Foreign Affiliates in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 27(1), pages 143-56, February.
  14. Davies, Stephen W & Lyons, Bruce R, 1991. "Characterising Relative Performance: The Productivity Advantage of Foreign Owned Firms in the UK," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(4), pages 584-95, October.
  15. Mark E. Doms & J . Bradford Jensen, 1998. "Comparing Wages, Skills, and Productivity between Domestically and Foreign-Owned Manufacturing Establishments in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: Geography and Ownership as Bases for Economic Accounting, pages 235-258 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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