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Disciplining firms: the impact of trade reforms on profit margins in Indian industry


  • Uma Kambhampati
  • Ashok Parikh


The paper analyses the effects of increased trade exposure on the profitability of firms in Indian industry. While trade reforms are often expected to decrease profit margins as firms struggle to compete in international markets, there is the possibility that increased competition may improve firm efficiency and provide a positive impetus to firm profitability. This paper is different from many others in this area in that it considers both these possibilities. An efficiency index is created to directly analyse the impact of changing efficiency levels on firm profit margins. Results indicate that liberalization significantly influenced profit margins. However, its main effect is through the impact that it has had on other firm variables - market shares, advertising, R&D and exports - all of which changed after 1991. While exports have had a pro-competitive effect on profit margins in the selected sample, AD and R&D both cause an increase in profit margins. It is also found that neither capital nor managerial capabilities (as proxied by remuneration) are particularly effective in increasing profit margins.

Suggested Citation

  • Uma Kambhampati & Ashok Parikh, 2003. "Disciplining firms: the impact of trade reforms on profit margins in Indian industry," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(4), pages 461-470.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:35:y:2003:i:4:p:461-470
    DOI: 10.1080/00036840210155177

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Devarajan, Shantayanan & Rodrik, Dani, 1989. "Trade Liberalization in Developing Countries: Do Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies Matter?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 283-287, May.
    2. Levinsohn, James, 1993. "Testing the imports-as-market-discipline hypothesis," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1-2), pages 1-22, August.
    3. Kunal Sen & S. Chand, 1999. "Competitive Pressures From Trade Exposure: Evidence from Indian Manufacturing," Indian Economic Review, Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, vol. 34(2), pages 113-126, July.
    4. Nigel L. Driffield & Uma S. Kambhampati, 2003. "Trade Liberalization and the Efficiency of Firms in Indian Manufacturing," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 419-430, August.
    5. Nickell, Stephen J, 1996. "Competition and Corporate Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(4), pages 724-746, August.
    6. Krishna, Pravin & Mitra, Devashish, 1998. "Trade liberalization, market discipline and productivity growth: new evidence from India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 447-462, August.
    7. Dani Rodrik, 1992. "The Limits of Trade Policy Reform in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 87-105, Winter.
    8. Minami, Ryoshin & Hondai, Susumu, 1995. "An Evaluation of the Enterprise Reform in China: Income Share of Labor and Profitability in the Machine Industry," Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 36(2), pages 125-143, December.
    9. Lall, Sanjaya, 1999. "India's Manufactured Exports: Comparative Structure and Prospects," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(10), pages 1769-1786, October.
    10. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Byeongyong Paul Choi & Elyas Elyasiani, 2011. "Foreign-owned insurer performance in the US property-liability markets," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(3), pages 291-306.
    2. Eckhard Siggel & Pradeep Agrawal, 2009. "The Impact Of Economic Reforms On Indian Manufacturers : Evidence From A Small Sample Survey," Development Economics Working Papers 22930, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    3. Bishwanath GOLDAR & Suresh Chand AGGARWAL, 2005. "Trade Liberalization And Price-Cost Margin In Indian Industries," The Developing Economies, Institute of Developing Economies, vol. 43(3), pages 346-373, September.
    4. Arzu Akkoyunlu-Wigley & Sevinc Mihci, 2006. "Effects of the customs union with the European Union on the market structure and pricing behaviour of the Turkish manufacturing industry," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(20), pages 2443-2452.
    5. Carsten Eckel, 2009. "Endogenous Sunk Costs, Flexible Manufacturing and the Productivity Effects of International Trade," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 111(2), pages 369-386, June.
    6. Bhattacharjeean, Arnab & Majumdar, Sumit K., 2011. "How much does industry matter in an emerging market economy?," SIRE Discussion Papers 2011-51, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    7. Kambhampati, Uma S., 2006. "Financial liberalisation, corporate governance and the efficiency of firms in Indian manufacturing," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 46-69, January.
    8. repec:spr:jqecon:v:15:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s40953-016-0055-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Edwards, Seanicaa & Allen, Albert J. & Shaik, Saleem, 2006. "Market Structure Conduct Performance (SCP) Hypothesis Revisited using Stochastic Frontier Efficiency Analysis," 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA 21350, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    10. Arnab Bhattacharjee & Sumit K. Majumdar, 2011. "How much does industry matter in an emerging market economy?," Dundee Discussion Papers in Economics 256, Economic Studies, University of Dundee.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C01 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General - - - Econometrics
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F40 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - General
    • O24 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Trade Policy; Factor Movement; Foreign Exchange Policy


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