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Turbulence underneath the big calm? The micro-evidence behind Italian productivity dynamics

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  • Giovanni Dosi
  • Marco Grazzi

    ()

  • Chiara Tomasi
  • Alessandro Zeli

Abstract

Italy ranked last in terms of manufacturing productivity growth according to OECD estimates over the last decade, with a flat, if not declining, trend. In this work we investigate the underlying firm-level dynamics of enterprises on the basis of a database developed by the Italian Statistical Office (ISTAT) covering the period 1989–2004 and containing information on more than 100,000 firms. Over this period not only have the indicators of the central tendency of the distribution of labor productivity not significantly changed, but also the whole sectoral distributions have remained relatively stable over time, with their support at least not shrinking, or even possibly widening, over time. This is even more surprising if one takes into consideration the “Euro” shock that occurred during the period investigated. On the contrary, we observe that inter-decile differences in productivity have been increasing. Further, heterogeneous firms’ characteristics (i.e. export activity and innovation) seem to have contributed to boosting such intra-industry differences. Given such wide heterogeneities we resort to quantile regressions to identify the impact of a set of regressors at different levels of the conditional distribution of labor productivity. One phenomenon that we observe is what we call a tendency toward “neo-dualism” involving the co-existence of a small group of dynamic firms with a bigger ensemble of much less technologically progressive ones. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Giovanni Dosi & Marco Grazzi & Chiara Tomasi & Alessandro Zeli, 2012. "Turbulence underneath the big calm? The micro-evidence behind Italian productivity dynamics," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 39(4), pages 1043-1067, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:sbusec:v:39:y:2012:i:4:p:1043-1067
    DOI: 10.1007/s11187-011-9326-7
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    Cited by:

    1. Gabriele Ballarino & Francesco Bogliacino & Michela Braga & Massimiliano Bratti & Daniele Checchi & Antonio Filippin & Virginia Maestri & Elena Meschi & Francesco Scervini, 2012. "GINI Intermediate Report WP 3: Drivers of Growing Inequality," GINI Discussion Papers wp3, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    2. Francesco Bogliacino & Mario Pianta, 2016. "The Pavitt Taxonomy, revisited: patterns of innovation in manufacturing and services," Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, Springer;Fondazione Edison, vol. 33(2), pages 153-180, August.
    3. Marco Grazzi & Nadia Jacoby & Tania Treibich, 2016. "Dynamics of investment and firm performance: comparative evidence from manufacturing industries," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 51(1), pages 125-179, August.
    4. Giovanni Dosi & Marco Grazzi & Luigi Marengo & Simona Settepanella, 2016. "Production Theory: Accounting for Firm Heterogeneity and Technical Change," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 875-907, December.
    5. Irene Iodice & Chiara Tomasi, 2016. "Skill upgrading and wage gap: a decomposition analysis for Italian manufacturing firms," Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, Springer;Fondazione Edison, vol. 33(2), pages 201-232, August.
    6. Carlo Milana & Leopoldo Nascia & Alessandro Zeli, 2013. "Decomposing multifactor productivity in Italy from 1998 to 2004: evidence from large firms and SMEs using DEA," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 99-109, August.
    7. Francesco Bogliacino & Matteo Lucchese & Leopoldo Nascia & Mario Pianta, 2015. "The virtuous circle of innovation in Italian firms," Working Papers 1504, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Department of Economics, Society & Politics - Scientific Committee - L. Stefanini & G. Travaglini, revised 2015.
    8. Dosi, Giovanni & Grazzi, Marco & Moschella, Daniele, 2015. "Technology and costs in international competitiveness: From countries and sectors to firms," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(10), pages 1795-1814.
    9. repec:oup:indcch:v:26:y:2017:i:2:p:187-210. is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Dario Guarascio & Mario Pianta & Francesco Bogliacino, 2016. "Export, R&D and new products. a model and a test on European industries," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 869-905, October.
    11. Giovanni Dosi & Marcelo C. Pereira & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2017. "The footprint of evolutionary processes of learning and selection upon the statistical properties of industrial dynamics," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(2), pages 187-210.
    12. Grazzi, Marco & Sanzo, Roberto & Secchi, Angelo & Zeli, Alessandro, 2013. "The building process of a new integrated system of business micro-data 1989–2004," Journal of Economic and Social Measurement, IOS Press, issue 4, pages 291-324.
    13. Marco Grazzi & Daniele Moschella, 2018. "Small, young, and exporters: New evidence on the determinants of firm growth," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 125-152, January.
    14. Xiaodan Yu & Giovanni Dosi & Marco Grazzi & Jiasu Lei, 2015. "Inside the Virtuous Cycle between Productivity, Profitability, Investment and Corporate Growth: An Anatomy of China Industrialization," LEM Papers Series 2015/03, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    15. Matthias Duschl & Shi-Shu Peng, 2013. "Chinese firm dynamics and the role of ownership type A conditional estimation approach of the Asymmetric Exponential Power (AEP) density," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2014-01, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    16. Alessandro Manello & Giuseppe G. Calabrese & Piercarlo Frigero, 2016. "Technical efficiency and productivity growth along the automotive value chain: evidence from Italy," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(2), pages 245-259.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Productivity; Firm dynamics; Market selection; Trade; Euro introduction; Quantile regressions; C14; D20; F10; L10; L16; L25;

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • D20 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - General
    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General
    • L16 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics; Macroeconomic Industrial Structure
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance

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