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There's no Place like Home: The Profitability Gap between Headquarters and their Foreign Subsidiaries

  • Matthias Dischinger
  • Nadine Riedel

Using a large data set of European firms, this paper provides evidence that operations at multinational headquarters are significantly more profitable than operations at their foreign subsidiaries. The effect turns out to be robust and quantitatively large. Our findings suggest that the profitability gap is partly driven by agency costs which arise if value–driving functions are managed by a subsidiary that is geographically separated from the headquarters management. In line with falling communication and travel costs over the last decade, the profitability gap is shown to decline over time. Apart from that, our results indicate that a higher competitiveness of multinational firms in their home markets also contributes to the profitability gap. We discuss various implications of our findings.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2009/wp-cesifo-2009-12/cesifo1_wp2866.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2866.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2866
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  1. Caroline Freund & Diana Weinhold, 2002. "The Internet and International Trade in Services," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 236-240, May.
  2. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer, 1998. "Corporate Ownership Around the World," NBER Working Papers 6625, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Clausing, Kimberly A., 2003. "Tax-motivated transfer pricing and US intrafirm trade prices," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 2207-2223, September.
  4. Huizinga, Harry & Laeven, Luc, 2008. "International profit shifting within multinationals: A multi-country perspective," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1164-1182, June.
  5. Dischinger, Matthias & Riedel, Nadine, 2011. "Corporate taxes and the location of intangible assets within multinational firms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 691-707, August.
  6. Gordon H. Hanson & Raymond J. Mataloni & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2001. "Expansion Strategies of U.S. Multinational Firms," BEA Papers 0012, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  7. Hummels, David & Ishii, Jun & Yi, Kei-Mu, 2001. "The nature and growth of vertical specialization in world trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 75-96, June.
  8. Jose Campa & Linda S. Goldberg, 1997. "The evolving external orientation of manufacturing: a profile of four countries," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Jul, pages 53-81.
  9. Marianne Bertrand & Paras Mehta & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2000. "Ferreting Out Tunneling: An Application to Indian Business Groups," NBER Working Papers 7952, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Gordon H. Hanson & Raymond J. Mataloni & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2005. "Vertical Production Networks in Multinational Firms," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(4), pages 664-678, November.
  11. Luigi Zingales, 2000. "In Search of New Foundations," CRSP working papers 515, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  12. Budd, John W. & Konings, Jozef & Slaughter, Matthew J., 2002. "Wages and International Rent Sharing in Multinational Firms," IZA Discussion Papers 560, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Johannes Becker & Clemens Fuest, 2007. "Quality versus Quantity – The Composition Effect of Corporate Taxation on Foreign Direct Investment," CESifo Working Paper Series 2126, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Steven Brakman & Harry Garretsen (ed.), 2008. "Foreign Direct Investment and the Multinational Enterprise," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262026457, June.
  15. Michael P Devereux, 2007. "The Impact of Taxation on the Location of Capital, Firms and Profit: a Survey of Empirical Evidence," Working Papers 0702, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
  16. David Hummels & Dana Rapoport & Kei-Mu Yi, 1998. "Vertical specialization and the changing nature of world trade," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Jun, pages 79-99.
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