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Statistical Regularities in the Evolution of Industries. A Guide through Some Evidence and Challenges for the Theory

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  • Giovanni Dosi

Abstract

Fundamental drivers of the evolution of contemporary economies are the activities of search, discovery and economic exploitation of new products, new production processes, new organizational arrangements within and amongst business firms. What are their marks in terms of statistical properties that such processes display? Three basic questions in particular are addressed in this work. First, are there distinct characteristics of the microentities (in primis, business firms) and their distributions which systematically persist over time? Second, how do such characteristics within the population of competing firms affect their relative evolutionary success over time? And in particular what are the ultimate outcomes in terms of growth and profitability performances? Third, amongst the foregoing statistical properties and relations between them, which ones are invariant across industries, and, conversely, which ones depend on the technological and market characteristics of particular sectors? In order to address these questions we proceed in a sort of "inductive" manner. I start by examining some basic features of the distributions of firms sizes, growth rates and profitability. Next, I consider some evidence on the underlying inter-firm heterogeneity - particularly with regard to technological innovativeness and productivity - and their relationships with corporate performances. Finally, the work recalls the basic elements of an evolutionary interpretation of the evidence. Together with important points of corroboration of such a view - including those regarding a profound heterogeneity of firms at all levels of observation - one also facing standing challenges in primis, concerning the purported role of markets as effective selection devices.

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  • Giovanni Dosi, 2008. "Statistical Regularities in the Evolution of Industries. A Guide through Some Evidence and Challenges for the Theory," L'industria, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 2, pages 185-220.
  • Handle: RePEc:mul:j0hje1:doi:10.1430/27262:y:2008:i:2:p:185-220
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    1. Luís M B Cabral & José Mata, 2003. "On the Evolution of the Firm Size Distribution: Facts and Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1075-1090, September.
    2. G. Bottazzi & E. Cefis & G. Dosi & A. Secchi, 2003. "Invariances and Diversities in the Evolution of Manufacturing Industries," Working Papers 03-17, Utrecht School of Economics.
    3. Nunes Amaral, Luís A & Buldyrev, Sergey V & Havlin, Shlomo & Maass, Philipp & Salinger, Michael A & Eugene Stanley, H & Stanley, Michael H.R, 1997. "Scaling behavior in economics: The problem of quantifying company growth," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 244(1), pages 1-24.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Coad, Alex, 2010. "Neoclassical vs evolutionary theories of financial constraints: Critique and prospectus," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 206-218, August.
    2. Flora Bellone & Patrick Musso & Michel Quéré & Lionel Nesta, 2006. "Productivity and Market Selection of French Manufacturing Firms in the Nineties," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 97(5), pages 319-349.
    3. Uwe Cantner & Jens J. Krüger & René Söllner, 2012. "Product quality, product price, and share dynamics in the German compact car market," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(5), pages 1085-1115, October.
    4. Giulio Bottazzi & Alex Coad & Nadia Jacoby & Angelo Secchi, 2011. "Corporate growth and industrial dynamics: evidence from French manufacturing," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(1), pages 103-116.
    5. Pelin Demirel & Mariana Mazzucato, 2010. "The Evolution of Firm Growth Dynamics in the US Pharmaceutical Industry," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(8), pages 1053-1066.
    6. Coad, Alex, 2007. "Testing the principle of `growth of the fitter': The relationship between profits and firm growth," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 370-386, September.
    7. Jeong-Dong Lee, 2009. "Industry Dynamics and Productivity Research," TEMEP Discussion Papers 200929, Seoul National University; Technology Management, Economics, and Policy Program (TEMEP), revised Nov 2009.
    8. Giovanni Dosi & Marco Grazzi, 2005. "Technology as Problem-Solving Procedures and Technology as Input-Output Relations: Some Perspectives on the Theory of Production," LEM Papers Series 2005/26, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    9. Colombelli, Alessandra & Haned, Naciba & Le Bas, Christian, 2013. "On firm growth and innovation: Some new empirical perspectives using French CIS (1992–2004)," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 14-26.
    10. Bottazzi, Giulio, 2009. "On the irreconcilability of Pareto and Gibrat laws," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 388(7), pages 1133-1136.
    11. Carolina Castaldi & Sandro Sapio, 2008. "Growing like mushrooms? Sectoral evidence from four large European economies," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 509-527, August.
    12. Carolina Castaldi & Giovanni Dosi, 2007. "The patterns of output growth of firms and countries: new evidence on scale invariances and scale specificities," LEM Papers Series 2007/14, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    13. Giovanni Dosi & Giorgio Fagiolo & Andrea Roventini, 2008. "The microfoundations of business cycles: an evolutionary, multi-agent model," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 413-432, August.
    14. Martin Woerter, 2009. "Industry diversity and its impact on the innovation performance of firms," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 19(5), pages 675-700, October.
    15. Sandro Sapio & Grid Thoma, 2006. "The Growth of Industrial Sectors: Theoretical Insights and Empirical Evidence from U.S. Manufacturing," LEM Papers Series 2006/09, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.

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