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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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    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    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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