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The Determinants of Service Imports: The Role of Cost Pressure and Financial Constraints

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  • Elena Biewen

    ()

  • Daniela Harsch
  • Julia Spies

    ()

Abstract

This study provides evidence on how German multinational firms restructured their service activities during the last decade. Making use of new micro-level data on service imports of German multinationals from 2002-2008, we assess the determinants of service offshoring along the extensive and intensive margins. In particular, we evaluate how internal frictions in terms of lower sales level (per employee) and external frictions in terms of a reduced availability of credit co-determine the likelihood and the extent of sourcing services from abroad. First, we find a decreasing probability of starting to import services from abroad if firms are already under cost pressure. By contrast, firms intensify existing linkages of service imports in times of a sales drop. Second, financial constraints, which play a major role for goods trade, do not have any significant effect on service imports. These results are in line with the argument that the generally observed crisis-resilience of service trade stems from increased pressures to save on variable costs through offshoring and from its lower dependence on external finance. Furthermore, we find that a decline in sales and labor productivity induces firms to sort into intra-firm rather than arm’s-length trading.

Suggested Citation

  • Elena Biewen & Daniela Harsch & Julia Spies, 2012. "The Determinants of Service Imports: The Role of Cost Pressure and Financial Constraints," IAW Discussion Papers 90, Institut für Angewandte Wirtschaftsforschung (IAW).
  • Handle: RePEc:iaw:iawdip:90
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Markus Kelle & Jörn Kleinert & Horst Raff & Farid Toubal, 2013. "Cross-border and Foreign Affiliate Sales of Services: Evidence from German Microdata," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(11), pages 1373-1392, November.
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    4. Robert C. Feenstra & Zhiyuan Li & Miaojie Yu, 2014. "Exports and Credit Constraints under Incomplete Information: Theory and Evidence from China," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(4), pages 729-744, October.
    5. Ingo Borchert & Aaditya Mattoo, 2009. "The crisis-resilience of services trade," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(13), pages 2115-2136, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gavin Murphy & Iulia Siedschlag, 2015. "Determinants of R&D offshoring," JRC Working Papers on Corporate R&D and Innovation 2015-02, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    2. Francesco Bripi & David Loschiavo & Davide Revelli, 2017. "Services trade and credit frictions: evidence from matched bank-firm data," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1110, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    3. Eppinger, Peter S., 2017. "Service offshoring and firm employment," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 103, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Service Imports; Intra-Firm Trade; Arm’s-Length Trade;

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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