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Diversification, Organizational Adjustment and Firm Performance: Evidence from Microdata


  • Evan Rawley


This paper proposes that diversification taxes firms’ existing organizational systems by altering routines, formal contract structures and strategies. I test the proposition that organizational adjustment costs associated with diversification erode incumbent competitive advantage, using novel microdata on taxicab firms from the Economic Census. The tests exploit exogenous local characteristics of taxi markets to identify the impact of diversification on firm organization and performance. Supporting the contention that diversification leads to organizational adjustments, the results show that diversifying firms are less likely to adopt computerized dispatching systems for their taxicabs and make significant changes in their formal contract structures governing asset ownership. Consistent with the theory, diversification is associated with falling taxi productivity. Comparing the productivity of diversified and focused start-ups and incumbent firms reveals that the organizational change component of diversification accounts for an 18% decrease in paid ride-miles per taxi. The results support the core contention of the paper that diversification taxes firms’ existing organizational capital.

Suggested Citation

  • Evan Rawley, 2007. "Diversification, Organizational Adjustment and Firm Performance: Evidence from Microdata," Working Papers 07-29, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:07-29

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sussman, Nathan & Yafeh, Yishay, 2000. "Institutions, Reforms, and Country Risk: Lessons from Japanese Government Debt in the Meiji Era," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(02), pages 442-467, June.
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    5. Fairlie, Robert W, 1999. "The Absence of the African-American Owned Business: An Analysis of the Dynamics of Self-Employment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 80-108, January.
    6. Mitchener, Kris James & Ohnuki, Mari, 2009. "Institutions, Competition, and Capital Market Integration in Japan," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(01), pages 138-171, March.
    7. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
    8. Frankl, Jennifer L., 1999. "An Analysis of Japanese Corporate Structure, 1915–1937," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(04), pages 997-1015, December.
    9. Randall Morck & Masao Nakamura, 2007. "Business Groups and the Big Push: Meiji Japan's Mass Privatization and Subsequent Growth," NBER Working Papers 13171, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
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