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Do Conglomerate Firms Allocate Resources Inefficiently?


  • Gordon M Phillips
  • Vojislav Maksimovic


We develop a profit-maximizing neoclassical of optimal firm size and growth across different industries. The model predicts how conglomerate firms will allocate resources across divisions over the business cycle and how their responses to industry shocks will differ from those of single-segment firms. We test our model and find that growth of conglomerate and single-segment firms is related to neoclassical theory. Conglomerates grow less in a particular segment of their other segments are more productive and if their other segments experience a larger positive demand shock. We find that the growth rates of peripheral segments are very sensitive to relative productivity and that conglomerates sharply cut the growth of unproductive peripheral segments. We do find some evidence consistent with agency problems for conglomerate firms that are broken up. However, the majority of conglomerate firms exhibit growth across business segments that is consistent with optimal behavior.

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  • Gordon M Phillips & Vojislav Maksimovic, 1999. "Do Conglomerate Firms Allocate Resources Inefficiently?," Working Papers 99-11, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:99-11

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Productivity, R&D, and the Data Constraint," NBER Chapters,in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 347-374 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Martin Neil Baily & Robert J. Gordon, 1988. "The Productivity Slowdown, Measurement Issues, and the Explosion of Computer Power," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(2), pages 347-432.
    3. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin Hitt, 1996. "Paradox Lost? Firm-Level Evidence on the Returns to Information Systems Spending," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 42(4), pages 541-558, April.
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    CES; economic; research; micro; data; microdata; chief; economist;


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