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Selection and Firm Survival: Evidence from the Shipbuilding Industry, 1825-1914

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  • Peter Thompson

    (Florida International University)

Abstract

Several theories of firm performance can explain the well known observation that survival is positively related to age. However, a more mundane explanation-selection bias driven by variations in firm quality-may also underlie the phenomenon. This paper employs a 90 year plant-level panel data set on the U.S. iron and steel shipbuilding industry of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to discriminate between the explanations. The shipbuilding industry exhibits the usual joint dependence of survival on age and size, but this dependence is eliminated after controlling for heterogeneity by using preentry experience as a proxy for firm quality. The evidence points to a dominant role for selection bias in creating the age dependence of survival. At the same time, preentry experience is found to have a large and extremely persistent effect on survival, and this finding is inconsistent with standard explanations for the role of preentry experience on firm performance. © 2005 President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Thompson, 2005. "Selection and Firm Survival: Evidence from the Shipbuilding Industry, 1825-1914," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 26-36, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:87:y:2005:i:1:p:26-36
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    Cited by:

    1. Huynh, Kim P. & Petrunia, Robert J. & Voia, Marcel, 2012. "Duration of new firms: The role of startup financial conditions, industry and aggregate factors," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 354-362.
    2. Ashish Arora & Anand Nandkumar, 2011. "Cash-Out or Flameout! Opportunity Cost and Entrepreneurial Strategy: Theory, and Evidence from the Information Security Industry," Management Science, INFORMS, pages 1844-1860.
    3. William Hanlon, 2017. "Dynamic Comparative Advantage in International Shipbuilding: The Transition from Wood to Steel," 2017 Meeting Papers 140, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Mano, Yukichi & Suzuki, Aya, 2013. "Industrial Development through Takeovers and Exits: the Case of the Cut Flower Exporters in Ethiopia," Discussion Papers 2013-05, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
    5. Nulsch, Nicole, 2014. "Is Subsidizing Companies in Difficulties an Optimal Policy? An Empirical Study on the Effectiveness of State Aid in the European Union," IWH Discussion Papers 9/2014, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    6. Taylor, Margaret & Taylor, Andrew, 2012. "The technology life cycle: Conceptualization and managerial implications," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 140(1), pages 541-553.
    7. Roberto Fontana & Lionel Nesta, 2009. "Product Innovation and Survival in a High-Tech Industry," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 34(4), pages 287-306, June.
    8. Björn Eriksson & Maria Stanfors, 2015. "A winning strategy? The employment of women and firm longevity during industrialisation," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, pages 988-1004.
    9. Bhattacharjee, Arnab & Hany, Jie, 2010. "Financial Distress in Chinese Industry: Microeconomic, Macroeconomic and Institutional Infuences," SIRE Discussion Papers 2010-53, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    10. Natarajan Balasubramanian, 2011. "New Plant Venture Performance Differences Among Incumbent, Diversifying, and Entrepreneurial Firms: The Impact of Industry Learning Intensity," Management Science, INFORMS, pages 549-565.
    11. Filippo Randelli & Giorgio Ricchiuti, 2015. "The Survival of Tuscan Firms," Working Papers - Economics wp2015_02.rdf, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Scienze per l'Economia e l'Impresa.
    12. Bhattacharjee, Arnab & Han, Jie, 2014. "Financial distress of Chinese firms: Microeconomic, macroeconomic and institutional influences," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 244-262.
    13. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/6127 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Canfei He & Rudai Yang, 2016. "Determinants of Firm Failure: Empirical Evidence from China," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 72-92, March.

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