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There's No Place Like Home: The Profitability Gap between Headquarters and their Foreign Subsidiaries

Author

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  • Dischinger, Matthias
  • Riedel, Nadine

Abstract

Using a large panel data set for European firms, this paper provides evidence that operations at multinational headquarters are significantly more profitable than perations at their foreign subsidiaries. The effect turns out to be robust and quantitatively large. Our findings suggest that the profitability gap is partly driven by agency costs which arise if value-driving functions are managed by a subsidiary that is geographically separated from the headquarters management. In line with falling communication and travel costs over the last decade, the profitability gap is shown to decline over time. Apart from that, our results indicate that a higher competitiveness of multinational firms in their home markets also contributes to the profitability gap. We discuss various implications of our findings.

Suggested Citation

  • Dischinger, Matthias & Riedel, Nadine, 2009. "There's No Place Like Home: The Profitability Gap between Headquarters and their Foreign Subsidiaries," Discussion Papers in Economics 10976, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:10976
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Steven Brakman & Harry Garretsen (ed.), 2008. "Foreign Direct Investment and the Multinational Enterprise," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262026457, January.
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    10. Dischinger, Matthias & Riedel, Nadine, 2011. "Corporate taxes and the location of intangible assets within multinational firms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 691-707.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jarle Møen & Dirk Schindler & Guttorm Schjelderup & Julia Tropina, 2011. "International Debt Shifting: Do Multinationals Shift Internal or External Debt?," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2011-40, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
    2. Dischinger, Matthias & Riedel, Nadine, 2011. "Corporate taxes and the location of intangible assets within multinational firms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 691-707.
    3. Riedel, Nadine & Böhm, Tobias & Karkinsky, Tom & Knoll, Bodo, 2015. "Corporate Taxes and Strategic Patent Location within Multinational Firms," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112978, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    profitability distribution; multinational enterprise; corporate taxes;

    JEL classification:

    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies

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