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Industrial De-Diversification and its Consequences for Productivity

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  • Frank R. Lichtenberg

Abstract

Due in large part to intense takeover activity during the 1980s, the extent of American firms' industrial diversification declined significantly during the second half of the decade. The mean number of industries in which firms operated declined 14 percent, and the fraction of single-industry firms increased 54 percent. Firms that were "born" during the period were much less diversified than those that "died", and "continuing" firms reduced the number of industries in which they operated. using plant-level Census Bureau data, we show that productivity is inversely related to the degree of diversification: holding constant the number of the parent firm's plants, the greater the number of industries in which the parent operates, the lower the productivity of its plants. Hence de-diversification is one of the means by which recent takeovers have contributed to U.S. productivity growth. We also find that the effectiveness of regulations governing disclosure by companies of financial information for their industry segments was low when they were introduced in the 1970s and has been declining ever since.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3231.

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Date of creation: Jan 1990
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Publication status: published as Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, December 1992, forthcoming.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3231

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  1. Lichtenberg, Frank R & Siegel, Donald, 1991. "The Impact of R&D Investment on Productivity--New Evidence Using Linked R&D-LRD Data," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(2), pages 203-29, April.
  2. Lichtenberg, Frank R. & Siegel, Donald, 1990. "The effects of leveraged buyouts on productivity and related aspects of firm behavior," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 165-194, September.
  3. Randall Morck & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1989. "Do Managerial Objectives Drive Bad Acquisitions?," NBER Working Papers 3000, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Devra L. Golbe & Lawrence J. White, 1988. "A Time-Series Analysis of Mergers and Acquisitions in the U.S. Economy," NBER Chapters, in: Corporate Takeovers: Causes and Consequences, pages 265-310 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Lichtenberg, F.R. & Siegel, D., 1989. "The Effect Of Takeovers On The Employment And Wages Of Central-Office And Other Personnel," Papers fb-_89-05, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
  6. Wernerfelt, Birger & Montgomery, Cynthia A, 1988. "Tobin's q and the Importance of Focus in Firm Performance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 246-50, March.
  7. Lichtenberg, Frank R, 1988. "Estimation of the Internal Adjustment Costs Model Using Longitudinal Establishment Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(3), pages 421-30, August.
  8. Amar Bhide, 1989. "The Causes And Consequences Of Hostile Takeovers," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 2(2), pages 36-59.
  9. Frank R. Lichtenberg & Donald Siegel, 1987. "Productivity and Changes in Ownership of Manufactoring Plants," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(3), pages 643-684.
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