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Distance to Frontier and Appropriate Business Strategy

  • Alex Coad

This paper is an empirical test of the hypothesis that the appropriateness of different business strategies is conditional on the firm’s distance to the industry frontier. We use data on four 2-digit high-tech manufacturing industries in the US over the period 1972-1999, and apply semi-parametric quantile regressions to investigate the contribution of firm behavior to market value at various points of the conditional distribution of Tobin’s q. Among our results, we observe that innovative activity, measured in terms of R&D expenditure or patents, has a strong positive association with market value at the upper quantiles (corresponding to the leader firms) whereas the innovative efforts of laggard firms are valued significantly less. Laggard firms, we suggest, should instead achieve productivity growth through efficient exploitation of existing technologies and imitation of industry leaders. Employment growth in leader firms is encouraged whereas growth of backward firms is not as well received on the stock market.

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Paper provided by DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies in its series DRUID Working Papers with number 08-05.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:08-05
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  1. Alex Coad & Rekha Rao, 2007. "Innovation and Firm Growth in High-Tech Sectors: A Quantile Regression Approach," Open Discussion Papers in Economics 57, The Open University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economics.
  2. Prantl, Susanne & Howitt, Peter & Griffith, Rachel & Blundell, Richard & Aghion, Philippe, 2004. "Entry and Productivity Growth: Evidence From Microlevel Panel Data," Scholarly Articles 4481510, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  4. Rachel Griffith & Stephen Redding & John Van Reenen, 2004. "Mapping the Two Faces of R&D: Productivity Growth in a Panel of OECD Industries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(4), pages 883-895, November.
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  17. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:15:y:2006:i:13:p:1-10 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. 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.
  19. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1987. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial Research and Development," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(3), pages 783-832.
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