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Impact of Uncertainty and Sunk Costs on Firm Survival and Industry Dynamics

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  • Ghosal, Vivek

    (Georgia Institute of Technology)

Abstract

In theory, uncertainty and sunk costs can influence industry dynamics through the option value and financing constraints channels. Empirical evaluation of these models in the context of industry dynamics are, however, at a nascent stage. Our empirical analysis, covering 267 U.S. manufacturing industries over a 30-year period, reveals that greater uncertainty (i) decreases the number of small firms and establishments in high sunk cost industries, (ii) has virtually no impact on larger establishments, (iii) results in a less skewed size distribution of firms and establishments in high sunk cost industries and (iv) marginally increases industry output concentration. Addressing the recent literature, we also control for technological change and our estimates show that technical progress decreases the number of small firms and establishments in an industry. While past studies have emphasized technological change as a key driver of industry dynamics, our results indicate that uncertainty and sunk costs play a crucial role. Our findings could be useful for the study of firm survival, models of creative destruction, evolution of firm size distribution, mergers and acquisitions and competition policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Ghosal, Vivek, 2002. "Impact of Uncertainty and Sunk Costs on Firm Survival and Industry Dynamics," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2002 86, Royal Economic Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:ac2002:86
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    2. Joseph P. Byrne & Marina-Eliza Spaliara & Serafeim Tsoukas, 2016. "Firm Survival, Uncertainty, And Financial Frictions: Is There A Financial Uncertainty Accelerator?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(1), pages 375-390, January.
    3. Mohamed Jellal & François-Charles Wolff, 2005. "Free Entry under Uncertainty," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 85(1), pages 39-63, July.
    4. Fariñas, Jose C. & Ruano, Sonia, 2005. "Firm productivity, heterogeneity, sunk costs and market selection," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(7-8), pages 505-534, September.
    5. Vivek Ghosal, 2003. "Endemic Volatility of Firms and Establishments: Are Real Options Effects Important?," CIG Working Papers SP II 2003-13, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Research Unit: Competition and Innovation (CIG).
    6. Werner Hölzl, 2003. "Tangible and intangible sunk costs and the entry and exit of firms in Austrian Manufacturing," Working Papers geewp33, Vienna University of Economics and Business Research Group: Growth and Employment in Europe: Sustainability and Competitiveness.
    7. Vesa Kanniainen & Mikko Leppämäki, 2009. "Union power, entrepreneurial risk, and entrepreneurship," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 33(3), pages 293-302, October.
    8. Ioannis Kessides & Li Tang, 2010. "Sunk Costs, Market Contestability, and the Size Distribution of Firms," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 37(3), pages 215-236, November.
    9. T. Huw Edwards, 2006. "Who Gains from Restructuring the Post-Soviet Transition Economies, and Why?," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(4), pages 425-448.
    10. Fredrik Wilhelmsson & Konstantin Kozlov, 2007. "Exports and productivity of Russian firms: in search of causality," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 40(4), pages 361-385, December.
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    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • G10 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • L40 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - General

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