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Age-size effects in productive efficiency: a second test of the passive learning model

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  • Taye Mengistae

Abstract

Several studies in developed economies have reported that the rate of growth of small firms decreases with firm age as well as size. The result is consistent with Jovanovic's (1982) version of the passive learning model of competitive selection and is confirmed by data on a random sample of manufacturing firms in Ethiopia. This paper uses the Ethiopian data to test for three other implications of the Jovanovic model. These link age-size effects in firm growth to an underlying distribution of firms by technical efficiency, but have not been investigated empirically before. We find that firstly, the age-size effects detected in the growth of firms in our sample are matched by time-invariant inter-firm differences in technical efficiency. Secondly, there are also age-size effects in efficiency whereby bigger firms are more efficient given age, and older firms are more efficient given size. Thirdly, firm age and firm size mainly proxy for owner human capital and location variables in as far as they explain efficiency scores. In other words, it is not the case that some firms are more efficient than others because they are bigger or older but the other way round some firms are bigger or longer lived than others because they have proved to be more efficient. Advantageous location is a major source of technical efficiency but is not as important as greater entrepreneurial human capital. Among the human capital variables considered, the level of formal education completed has by far the strongest influence on efficiency scores. The owner's access to business networks and his or her ethnicity also have significant effects. On the other hand, there is no evidence that efficiency depends on any one of pre-ownership employment experience, occupational following of parents or prior vocational training.

Suggested Citation

  • Taye Mengistae, 1996. "Age-size effects in productive efficiency: a second test of the passive learning model," CSAE Working Paper Series 1996-02, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:1996-02
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    File URL: http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/9602text.pdf
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    1. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas & Joulfaian, David & Rosen, Harvey S, 1994. "Sticking It Out: Entrepreneurial Survival and Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(1), pages 53-75, February.
    2. Aigner, Dennis & Lovell, C. A. Knox & Schmidt, Peter, 1977. "Formulation and estimation of stochastic frontier production function models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 21-37, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mats GRANÉR & Anders ISAKSSON, 2009. "Firm Efficiency And The Destination Of Exports: Evidence From Kenyan Plant-Level Data," The Developing Economies, Institute of Developing Economies, vol. 47(3), pages 279-306.
    2. Margono, Heru & Sharma, Subhash C., 2006. "Efficiency and productivity analyses of Indonesian manufacturing industries," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(6), pages 979-995, December.
    3. Francis Teal, 1998. "The Ghanaian manufacturing sector 1991-1995: firm growth, productivity and convergence," CSAE Working Paper Series 1998-17, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    4. Takehiko Yasuda, 2005. "Firm Growth, Size, Age and Behavior in Japanese Manufacturing," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 1-15, December.
    5. Francis Teal, 1998. "The Ghanaian manufacturing sector 1991-1995: firm growth, productivity and convergence," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/1998-17, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    6. Sangho Kim, 2003. "Identifying And Estimating Sources Of Technical Inefficiency In Korean Manufacturing Industries," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 21(1), pages 132-144, January.
    7. David T. Yi, 2010. "Determinants of fundraising efficiency of nonprofit organizations: evidence from US public charitable organizations," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(7), pages 465-475.

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