IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Sources of variation in firm profitability and growth


  • Goddard, John
  • Tavakoli, Manouche
  • Wilson, John O.S.


This article reports an analysis of the sources of variation in profitability and growth for manufacturing firms located in eleven European countries. A variance decomposition analysis determines the importance of the country, industry, corporate group and firm effects on profitability and growth. The analysis reveals evidence of differences between industries in the comparative advantage offered by different countries, reflecting a tendency for specialization and geographic concentration. However, as in several previous studies, the firm-level effects are the most important class of effect in explaining the variation in performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Goddard, John & Tavakoli, Manouche & Wilson, John O.S., 2009. "Sources of variation in firm profitability and growth," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 495-508, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbrese:v:62:y:2009:i:4:p:495-508

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Frankel, Jeffrey A & Rose, Andrew K, 1998. "The Endogeneity of the Optimum Currency Area Criteria," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(449), pages 1009-1025, July.
    2. G. Urga & P. A. Geroski & S. Lazarova & C. F. Walters, 2003. "Are differences in firm size transitory or permanent?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(1), pages 47-59.
    3. Mike Artis & Hans-Martin Krolzig & Juan Toro, 2004. "The European business cycle," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(1), pages 1-44, January.
    4. DeFond, Mark & Hung, Mingyi & Trezevant, Robert, 2007. "Investor protection and the information content of annual earnings announcements: International evidence," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 37-67, March.
    5. Juan Carlos Bou & Albert Satorra, 2003. "The persistence of abnormal returns at industry and firm levels," Economics Working Papers 729, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    6. Eduardo González-Fidalgo & Juan Ventura-Victoria, 2002. "How Much Do Strategic Groups Matter?," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 21(1), pages 55-71, August.
    7. Geroski, Paul A & Jacquemin, Alexis, 1988. "The Persistence of Profits: A European Comparison," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(391), pages 375-389, June.
    8. Demsetz, Harold, 1973. "Industry Structure, Market Rivalry, and Public Policy," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 1-9, April.
    9. Artis, Michael J & Kontolemis, Zenon G & Osborn, Denise R, 1997. "Business Cycles for G7 and European Countries," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70(2), pages 249-279, April.
    10. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1999. "The Quality of Government," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 222-279, April.
    11. Paul Geroski & Klaus Gugler, 2004. "Corporate growth convergence in Europe," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(4), pages 597-620, October.
    12. Alan M Rugman & Alain Verbeke, 2004. "A perspective on regional and global strategies of multinational enterprises," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 35(1), pages 3-18, January.
    13. Kessides, Ioannis N, 1990. "Internal versus External Market Conditions and Firm Profitability: An Exploratory Model," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(402), pages 773-792, September.
    14. Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Levine, Ross, 2003. "Law, endowments, and finance," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 137-181, November.
    15. Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Levine, Ross, 2003. "Law and finance: why does legal origin matter?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 653-675, December.
    16. Hawawini, Gabriel & Subramanian, Venkat & Verdin, Paul, 2004. "The home country in the age of globalization: how much does it matter for firm performance?," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 121-135, May.
    17. Morosini, Piero, 2004. "Industrial Clusters, Knowledge Integration and Performance," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 305-326, February.
    18. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "Law and Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1113-1155, December.
    19. Claver, Enrique & Molina, José & Tarí, Juan, 2002. "Firm and Industry Effects on Firm Profitability:: a Spanish Empirical Analysis," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 321-328, June.
    20. Gabriel Hawawini & Venkata Subban Subramanian & Paul Verdin, 2003. "Is performance driven by industry- or firm-specific factors? A new look at the evidence," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/14188, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    21. Alex Coad, 2007. "A Closer Look at Serial Growth Rate Correlation," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 31(1), pages 69-82, August.
    22. P. Hart, 2000. "Theories of Firms' Growth and the Generation of Jobs," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 17(3), pages 229-248, November.
    23. Jack Glen & Kevin Lee & Ajit Singh, 2003. "Corporate profitability and the dynamics of competition in emerging markets: a time series analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(491), pages 465-484, November.
    24. Marius Brülhart, 1998. "Economic Geography, Industry Location and Trade: The Evidence," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(6), pages 775-801, August.
    25. Geroski, Paul A & Machin, Stephen & Walters, Christopher F, 1997. "Corporate Growth and Profitability," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(2), pages 171-189, June.
    26. repec:bla:joares:v:31:y:1993:i::p:183-223 is not listed on IDEAS
    27. Goddard, J. A. & Wilson, J. O. S., 1999. "The persistence of profit: a new empirical interpretation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 663-687, July.
    28. repec:bla:joares:v:38:y:2000:i:1:p:1-21 is not listed on IDEAS
    29. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Overman, Henry G., 2004. "The spatial distribution of economic activities in the European Union," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics,in: J. V. Henderson & J. F. Thisse (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 64, pages 2845-2909 Elsevier.
    30. Dunne, Paul & Hughes, Alan, 1994. "Age, Size, Growth and Survival: UK Companies in the 1980s," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(2), pages 115-140, June.
    31. Anita M. McGahan & Michael E. Porter, 2002. "What Do We Know About Variance in Accounting Profitability?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(7), pages 834-851, July.
    32. Glen, Jack & Lee, Kevin & Singh, Ajit, 2001. "Persistence of profitability and competition in emerging markets," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 247-253, August.
    33. Chen, Natalie, 2004. "Intra-national versus international trade in the European Union: why do national borders matter?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 93-118, May.
    34. Sonja Fagernäs & Prabirjit Sarkar & Ajit Singh, 2008. "Legal Origin, Shareholder Protection and the Stock Market: New Challenges from Time Series Analysis," Chapters,in: The Economics of Corporate Governance and Mergers, chapter 2 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    35. Kumar, M S, 1985. "Growth, Acquisition Activity and Firm Size: Evidence from the United Kingdom," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(3), pages 327-338, March.
    36. Caloghirou, Yiannis & Protogerou, Aimilia & Spanos, Yiannis & Papagiannakis, Lefteris, 2004. "Industry-Versus Firm-specific Effects on Performance:: Contrasting SMEs and Large-sized Firms," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 231-243, April.
    37. 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 246-250, March.
    38. Ajit Singh & Geoffrey Whittington, 1975. "The Size and Growth of Firms," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(1), pages 15-26.
    39. Teece, David J, 1981. "Internal Organization and Economic Performance: An Empirical Analysis of the Profitability of Principal Firms," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(2), pages 173-199, December.
    40. repec:hrv:faseco:30747160 is not listed on IDEAS
    41. Villalonga, Belen, 2004. "Intangible resources, Tobin's q, and sustainability of performance differences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 205-230, June.
    42. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
    43. Elena Cefis & Matteo Ciccarelli, 2005. "Profit differentials and innovation," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(1-2), pages 43-61.
    44. M. Dueker & K. Wesche, 1999. "European Business Cycles: New Indices and Analysis of their Synchronicity," Discussion Paper Serie B 448, University of Bonn, Germany.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Lee, Hei-Wai & Sharma, Vivek & Cai, Kelly Nianyun, 2011. "Are stocks dumped or neglected by analysts' inferior investments to covered stocks?," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 64(5), pages 501-507, May.
    2. Tarek Ibrahim Eldomiaty & Mohamed Hashem Rashwan & Mohamed Bahaa El Din & Waleed Tayel, 2016. "Firm, industry and economic determinants of working capital at risk," International Journal of Financial Engineering (IJFE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 3(04), pages 1-29, December.
    3. Jan Schiefer & Stefan Hirsch & Monika Hartmann & Adelina Gschwandtner, 2013. "Industry, firm, year and country effects on profitability in EU food processing," Studies in Economics 1309, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    4. Serrasqueiro, Zélia & Nunes, Paulo Maçãs, 2010. "Non-linear relationships between growth opportunities and debt: Evidence from quoted Portuguese companies," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 63(8), pages 870-878, August.
    5. Juan Federico & Joan-Lluis Capelleras, 2015. "The heterogeneous dynamics between growth and profits: the case of young firms," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 44(2), pages 231-253, February.
    6. Jaraitė, Jūratė & Kažukauskas, Andrius, 2013. "The profitability of electricity generating firms and policies promoting renewable energy," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 858-865.
    7. Elango, B., 2010. "Influence of industry type on the relationship between international operations and risk," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 303-309, March.
    8. Schiefer, Jan & Hartmann, Monika, 2013. "Industry, firm, year, and country effects on profitability in EU food processing," Discussion Papers 162878, University of Bonn, Institute for Food and Resource Economics.
    9. Spyridon Stavropoulos & Martijn J. Burger & Dimitris Skuras, 2015. "Data Sparseness and Variance in Accounting Profitability," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 15-014/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
    10. Kažukauskas, Andrius & Jaraite, Jurate, 2011. "The Profitability of Power Generating Firms and Policies Promoting Renewable Energy," CERE Working Papers 2011:14, CERE - the Center for Environmental and Resource Economics.
    11. Canina, Linda & Carvell, Steven A. & Ma, Qingzhong & Ukhov, Andrey D., 2013. "Business cycle and asset valuation in the gaming industry," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(9), pages 1689-1695.
    12. Kim, Kyoung Yong & Patel, Pankaj C., 2017. "Employee ownership and firm performance: A variance decomposition analysis of European firms," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 248-254.
    13. Zouaghi, Ferdaous & Hirsch, Stefan & Garcia, Mercedes Sanchez, 2016. "What Drives Firm Profitability? A Multilevel Approach To The Spanish Agri-Food Sector," 56th Annual Conference, Bonn, Germany, September 28-30, 2016 244762, German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA).
    14. Atif Abbasi, Qaisar Ali Malik, 2015. "Firms’ Size Moderating Financial Performance in Growing Firms: An Empirical Evidence from Pakistan," International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, Econjournals, vol. 5(2), pages 334-339.
    15. Bilitis Schoonjans & Philippe Cauwenberge & Heidi Bauwhede, 2013. "Formal business networking and SME growth," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 169-181, June.
    16. Migliardo, Carlo & Schilirò, Daniele, 2016. "Mid-Sized Italian manufacturing firms: a panel data analysis on profitability," MPRA Paper 80148, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Muradoğlu, Yaz Gülnur & Sivaprasad, Sheeja, 2012. "Capital structure and abnormal returns," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 328-341.
    18. Hasan Ayaydin & Pinar Hayaloglu, 2014. "The Effect of Corruption on Firm Growth: Evidence from Firms in Turkey," Asian Economic and Financial Review, Asian Economic and Social Society, vol. 4(5), pages 607-624, May.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jbrese:v:62:y:2009:i:4:p:495-508. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.