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Impact of Uncertainty and Sunk Costs on Firm Survival and Industry Dynamics

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  • Ghosal, Vivek

    (Georgia Institute of Technology)

Abstract

In theory, uncertainty and sunk costs can influence industry dynamics through the option value and financing constraints channels. Empirical evaluation of these models in the context of industry dynamics are, however, at a nascent stage. Our empirical analysis, covering 267 U.S. manufacturing industries over a 30-year period, reveals that greater uncertainty (i) decreases the number of small firms and establishments in high sunk cost industries, (ii) has virtually no impact on larger establishments, (iii) results in a less skewed size distribution of firms and establishments in high sunk cost industries and (iv) marginally increases industry output concentration. Addressing the recent literature, we also control for technological change and our estimates show that technical progress decreases the number of small firms and establishments in an industry. While past studies have emphasized technological change as a key driver of industry dynamics, our results indicate that uncertainty and sunk costs play a crucial role. Our findings could be useful for the study of firm survival, models of creative destruction, evolution of firm size distribution, mergers and acquisitions and competition policy.

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Paper provided by Royal Economic Society in its series Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2002 with number 86.

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Date of creation: 29 Aug 2002
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Handle: RePEc:ecj:ac2002:86

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Cited by:
  1. Werner Hölzl, 2003. "Tangible and intangible sunk costs and the entry and exit of firms in Austrian Manufacturing," Working Papers geewp33, Vienna University of Economics Research Group: Growth and Employment in Europe: Sustainability and Competitiveness.
  2. Ioannis Kessides & Li Tang, 2010. "Sunk Costs, Market Contestability, and the Size Distribution of Firms," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 37(3), pages 215-236, November.
  3. Mohamed Jellal & François-Charles Wolff, 2005. "Free Entry under Uncertainty," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 85(1), pages 39-63, 07.
  4. Fredrik Wilhelmsson & Konstantin Kozlov, 2007. "Exports and productivity of Russian firms: in search of causality," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 40(4), pages 361-385, December.
  5. Vivek Ghosal, 2003. "Firm and Establishment Volatility: The Role of Sunk Costs, Profit Uncertainty and Technological Change," CESifo Working Paper Series 980, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Roy Thurik & Enrico Santarelli & David Audretsch & Luuk Klomp, 2002. "Gibrat's Law: Are the Services Different?," Scales Research Reports H200201, EIM Business and Policy Research.
  7. Vivek Ghosal, 2004. "Endemic Volatility Of Firms And Establishments: Are Real Options Effects Important?," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2004 4, Royal Economic Society.
  8. Vesa Kanniainen & Mikko Leppämäki, 2009. "Union power, entrepreneurial risk, and entrepreneurship," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 33(3), pages 293-302, October.
  9. T. Huw Edwards, 2004. "Who gains from restructuring the post-Soviet transition economies, and why?," Discussion Paper Series 2004-16, Department of Economics, Loughborough University, revised Jun 2004.
  10. Kerstin Pull, 2003. "Der Einfluss personalpolitischer Flexibilität auf die Standortwahl Multinationaler Unternehmen: eine empirische Analyse," IAAEG Discussion Papers until 2011 200301, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).
  11. Fariñas, Jose C. & Ruano, Sonia, 2005. "Firm productivity, heterogeneity, sunk costs and market selection," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(7-8), pages 505-534, September.

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