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Product Differentiation and Profitability in German Manufacturing Firms


  • Nils Braakmann

    () (Institute of Economics, University of Lüneburg)

  • Joachim Wagner

    () (Institute of Economics, University of Lüneburg)


We use a unique rich newly built data set for German manufacturing enterprises to investigate the product differentiation – firm performance relationship. We find that an increase in the degree of product diversification has a negative impact on profitability when observed and unobserved firm characteristics are controlled for. The effects are statistically significant and large from an economic point of view. This helps to understand the – at least, at a first glance – surprising fact that nearly 40 percent of all manufacturing enterprises with at least 20 employees in Germany are singleproduct firms according to a detailed classification of products, and that multi-product enterprises with a large number of goods are a rare species.

Suggested Citation

  • Nils Braakmann & Joachim Wagner, 2009. "Product Differentiation and Profitability in German Manufacturing Firms," Working Paper Series in Economics 115, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lue:wpaper:115

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Martin Gornig & Bernd Görzig, 2007. "Verstärkte Spezialisierung deutscher Unternehmen," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 74(20), pages 333-335.
    2. Bernd Görzig & Martin Gornig & Ramona Pohl, 2007. "Spezialisierung und Unternehmenserfolg im verarbeitenden Gewerbe Deutschlands," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 76(3), pages 43-58.
    3. Ernest H. Hall Jr., 1995. "Corporate Diversification and Perfor Mance: An Investigation of Causality," Australian Journal of Management, Australian School of Business, vol. 20(1), pages 25-42, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nils Braakmann & Joachim Wagner, 2011. "Product diversification and stability of employment and sales: first evidence from German manufacturing firms," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(27), pages 3977-3985.
    2. Wagner Joachim, 2009. "Produktdifferenzierung in deutschen Industrieunternehmen 1995 – 2004: Ausmaß und Bestimmungsgründe / Product Diversification in German Manufacturing Enterprises 1995 – 2004: Extent and Determinants," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 229(5), pages 615-642, October.

    More about this item


    Product differentiation; profitability. Germany;

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • L60 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - General

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