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Business Groups as Hierarchies of Firms: Determinants of Vertical Integration and Performance

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  • Carlo Altomonte

    (Bocconi University and FEEM)

  • Armando Rungi

    (Bocconi University and FEEM)

Abstract

We explore the nature of Business Groups, that is network-like forms of hierarchical organization between legally autonomous firms spanning both within and across national borders. Exploiting a unique dataset of 270,474 headquarters controlling more than 1,500,000 (domestic and foreign) affiliates in all countries worldwide, we find that business groups account for a significant part of value-added generation in both developed and developing countries, with a prevalence in the latter. In order to characterize their boundaries, we distinguish between an affiliate vs. a group-level index of vertical integration, as well as an entropy-like metric able to summarize the hierarchical complexity of a group and its trade-off between exploitation of knowledge as an input across the hierarchy and the associated communication costs. We relate these metrics to host country institutional characteristics, as well as to the performance of affiliates across business groups. Conditional on institutional quality, a negative correlation exists between vertical integration and organizational complexity in defining the boundaries of business groups. We also find a robust (albeit non-linear) positive relationship between a group's organizational complexity and productivity which dominates the already known correlation between vertical integration and productivity. Results are in line with the theoretical framework of knowledge-based hierarchies developed by the literature, in which intangible assets are a complementary input in the production processes.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlo Altomonte & Armando Rungi, 2013. "Business Groups as Hierarchies of Firms: Determinants of Vertical Integration and Performance," Working Papers 2013.33, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2013.33
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    2. Amighini, Alessia & Cozza, Claudio & Rabellotti, Roberta & Sanfilippo, Marco, 2014. "An analysis of Chinese outward FDIs in Europe with firm-level data," Papers in Innovation Studies 2014/2, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.
    3. Loredana Fattorini & Armando Rungi & Zhen Zhu, 2017. "The Organization of Global Supply Networks," Working Papers 08/2017, IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca, revised Nov 2017.
    4. Armando Rungi & Davide Del Prete, 2017. "The 'Smile Curve': where Value is Added along Supply Chains," Working Papers 05/2017, IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca, revised Mar 2017.
    5. repec:eee:jcecon:v:45:y:2017:i:3:p:520-543 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Frank Emmert-Streib & Aliyu Musa & Kestutis Baltakys & Juho Kanniainen & Shailesh Tripathi & Olli Yli-Harja & Herbert Jodlbauer & Matthias Dehmer, 2017. "Computational Analysis of the structural properties of Economic and Financial Networks," Papers 1710.04455, arXiv.org.
    7. Rémi BAZILLIER & Sophie HATTE & Julien VAUDAY, 2016. "Is Reputation at Stake When Environmentally Responsible Multinationals Invest Abroad? An Empirical Investigation," LEO Working Papers / DR LEO 2315, Orleans Economics Laboratory / Laboratoire d'Economie d'Orleans (LEO), University of Orleans.
    8. Armando Rungi & Davide Del Prete, 2017. "The ‘Smile Curve’: where Value is Added along Supply Chains," Development Working Papers 428, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano, revised 10 Apr 2017.
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    13. Temouri, Yama & Driffield, Nigel & Bhaumik, Sumon Kumar, 2016. "A strategic perspective of cross-listing by emerging market firms: Evidence from Indonesia, Mexico, Poland and South Africa," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 265-279.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Production Chains; Hierarchies; Business Groups; Financial Development; Property Rights; Vertical Integration; Corporate Ownership; Organization of Production; Productivity;

    JEL classification:

    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance

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