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Multi-Product Firms and Product Quality

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  • Kalina Manova
  • Zhiwei Zhang

Abstract

We examine the global operations of multi-product firms. We present a flexible heterogeneous-firm trade model with either limited or strong scope for quality differentiation. Using customs data for China during 2002-2006, we empirically establish that firms allocate activity across products in line with a product hierarchy based on quality. Firms vary output quality across their products by using inputs of different quality levels. Their core competence is in varieties of superior quality that command higher prices but nevertheless generate higher sales. In markets where they offer fewer products, firms concentrate on their core varieties by dropping low-quality peripheral goods on the extensive margin and by shifting sales towards top-quality products on the intensive margin. The product quality ladder also governs firms ’ export dynamics, both in general and in response to the exogenous removal of MFA quotas on textiles and apparel. Our results inform the drivers and measurement of firm performance, the effects of trade reforms, and the design of development policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Kalina Manova & Zhiwei Zhang, 2012. "Multi-Product Firms and Product Quality," NBER Working Papers 18637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18637
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    Cited by:

    1. Feng, Ling & Li, Zhiyuan & Swenson, Deborah L., 2016. "The connection between imported intermediate inputs and exports: Evidence from Chinese firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 86-101.
    2. Ma, Yue & Tang, Heiwai & Zhang, Yifan, 2014. "Factor Intensity, product switching, and productivity: Evidence from Chinese exporters," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 349-362.
    3. Chen, Natalie & Juvenal, Luciana, 2015. "Quality and the Great Trade Collapse," Working Papers 231147, American Association of Wine Economists.
    4. Angelo Secchi & Federico Tamagni & Chiara Tomasi, 2016. "Export price adjustments under financial constraints," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 49(3), pages 1057-1085, August.
    5. Chen, Natalie & Juvenal, Luciana, 2016. "Quality, trade, and exchange rate pass-through," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 61-80.
    6. repec:eee:reveco:v:53:y:2018:i:c:p:160-167 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. David H. Autor & David Dorn & Gordon H. Hanson, 2016. "The China Shock: Learning from Labor-Market Adjustment to Large Changes in Trade," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 8(1), pages 205-240, October.
    8. Tan, Yong & Han, Jian & Ma, Yeqing, 2015. "Multi-product firms, product scope, and the policy of export tax rebate," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 33-46.
    9. Bernini, Michele & Tomasi, Chiara, 2015. "Exchange rate pass-through and product heterogeneity: Does quality matter on the import side?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 117-138.
    10. Tan, Yong & Shao, Yuchen, 2016. "The Impact of Demand Shocks on Firm-Level Offshoring Behavior: Theory and Evidence," MPRA Paper 68728, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. R. Scott Hiller, 2016. "The importance of quality: How music festivals achieved commercial success," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 40(3), pages 309-334, August.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality

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