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The Superstar and the Followers: Intra-Firm Product Complementarity in International Trade

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This paper investigates whether firms’ exports of different products within a market are systematically interconnected. Using high-quality Swedish firm-registry data from 1997-2011, I first document that the distribution of firm export sales is skewed towards their best performing products (‘superstars’). I then use a novel instrumental variable approach to identify if the ‘superstar’ products induce more trade of non-superstar products. I find evidence that the exports of low-ranked (non-star) products of a firm are contingent on the exports of a single superstar product to each destination. Extending the ‘superstar’ concept to a ‘superstar core’ of products strengthens this result. Hence, I find that the exports of non-star products complements the superstar(s) while conversely, the same complementarity is not found using low-ranked products as placebo-superstars. The main contributions of this paper is identifying a new, sizeable and systematic intra-firm-destination one-way demand driven complementarity between products that can explain export sales variation within a market. Ignoring this pattern of between product dependency may lead to an over-emphasis on product scope as products should not be viewed in isolation.

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  • Arnarson, Björn Thor, 2016. "The Superstar and the Followers: Intra-Firm Product Complementarity in International Trade," Working Papers 2016:25, Lund University, Department of Economics, revised 22 Sep 2017.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:lunewp:2016_025
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Multi-product firms; product complementarity; intra-firm product dependence; within-destination export variation; Product Demand;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General
    • L20 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - General

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