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Towards an Explanation of the Exponential Distribution of Firm Growth Rates

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  • Alex Coad

    () (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne, Max Planck Institute of Economics - Evolutionary Economics Group)

Abstract

A robust feature of the corporate growth process is the exponential distribution of firm growth rates. This striking empirical regularity has been found to hold for a number of different datasets and at different levels of aggregation. In this paper, we propose a simple theoretical model capable of explaining this observed exponential distribution. We do not attempt to generalize on where growth opportunities come from, but rather we focus on how firms build upon growth opportunities. We borrow ideas from the self-organizing criticality literature to explain how the interdependent nature of discrete resources may lead to the triggering off a series of additions to a firm's resources. In a formal model we consider the case of employment growth in a hierarchy, and observe that growth rates follow an exponential distribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Alex Coad, 2006. "Towards an Explanation of the Exponential Distribution of Firm Growth Rates," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00113346, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:cesptp:halshs-00113346
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00113346
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bak, Per & Chen, Kan & Scheinkman, Jose & Woodford, Michael, 1993. "Aggregate fluctuations from independent sectoral shocks: self-organized criticality in a model of production and inventory dynamics," Ricerche Economiche, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 3-30, March.
    2. Giulio Bottazzi & Alex Coad & Nadia Jacoby & Angelo Secchi, 2011. "Corporate growth and industrial dynamics: evidence from French manufacturing," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(1), pages 103-116.
    3. Bottazzi, Giulio & Dosi, Giovanni & Lippi, Marco & Pammolli, Fabio & Riccaboni, Massimo, 2001. "Innovation and corporate growth in the evolution of the drug industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(7), pages 1161-1187, July.
    4. Giulio Bottazzi & Elena Cefis & Giovanni Dosi & Angelo Secchi, 2003. "Invariances and Diversities in the Evolution of Manufacturing Industries," LEM Papers Series 2003/21, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    5. Giulio Bottazzi & Angelo Secchi, 2003. "Common Properties and Sectoral Specificities in the Dynamics of U.S. Manufacturing Companies," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 23(3_4), pages 217-232, December.
    6. Nunes Amaral, Luís A & Buldyrev, Sergey V & Havlin, Shlomo & Maass, Philipp & Salinger, Michael A & Eugene Stanley, H & Stanley, Michael H.R, 1997. "Scaling behavior in economics: The problem of quantifying company growth," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 244(1), pages 1-24.
    7. Giulio Bottazzi & Angelo Secchi, 2006. "Explaining the distribution of firm growth rates," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(2), pages 235-256, June.
    8. Oliver E. Williamson, 1967. "Hierarchical Control and Optimum Firm Size," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 123-123.
    9. Giulio Bottazzi & Elena Cefis & Giovanni Dosi, 2002. "Corporate growth and industrial structures: some evidence from the Italian manufacturing industry," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(4), pages 705-723, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cosimo Abbate & Alessandro Sapio, 2016. "Gazelles and muppets in the City: Stock market listing, risk sharing, and firm growth quantiles," LEM Papers Series 2016/33, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    2. Alex Coad, 2007. "A Closer Look at Serial Growth Rate Correlation," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 31(1), pages 69-82, August.
    3. Daria Ciriaci & Pietro Moncada-Paterno-Castello & Peter Voigt, 2012. "Does size or age of innovative firms affect their growth persistence? Evidence from a panel of innovative Spanish firms," JRC Working Papers JRC74052, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    4. Alex Coad, 2006. "Understanding the processes of firm growth - a closer look at serial growth rate correlation," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00118801, HAL.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    hierarchy; Firm growth rates; exponential distribution; hierarchy.; Croissance des firmes; distributions exponentielle; hiérarchie.;

    JEL classification:

    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • C1 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General

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