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The sources of heterogeneity in firm performance: Lessons from Italy

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  • A. Arrighetti
  • F. Landini
  • E. Bartoloni

Abstract

An extensive literature documents large and persistent within-industry heterogeneity of firm performance. While some authors explain such evidence in terms of factor misallocation, we provide an alternative framework that is based on the interaction among exogenous and endogenous factors. Exogenous factors, both supply and demand-related, define the opportunity set that is available to firms. Endogenous factors reflect instead firm-specific interpretations of such set, which combined with the available resources and capabilities determine firm’s strategic responses that can be markedly heterogeneous. Whenever the diversity of firm conducts is associated with relatively small profit differentials, firm heterogeneity can persist. Evidence based on the evolution of labour productivity and profit dispersion in the Italian manufacturing sector between the 1990s and early 2000s provides support for our interpretative framework.

Suggested Citation

  • A. Arrighetti & F. Landini & E. Bartoloni, 2018. "The sources of heterogeneity in firm performance: Lessons from Italy," Economics Department Working Papers 2018-EP02, Department of Economics, Parma University (Italy).
  • Handle: RePEc:par:dipeco:2018-ep02
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Chad Syverson, 2011. "What Determines Productivity?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(2), pages 326-365, June.
    3. Sara Calligaris, 2015. "Misallocation and Total Factor Productivity in Italy: Evidence from Firm-Level Data," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 29(4), pages 367-393, December.
    4. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
    5. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano, 2008. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity (DOI:10.111/j.1467-937x.2007.00463.x)," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(3), pages 985-985.
    6. cipollone piero & Anita Guelfi, 2006. "The value of flexible contracts; evidence from an italian panel of industrial firms," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 583, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    7. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Armanda Cetrulo & Angelica Sbardella & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2021. "Vanishing social classes? Facts and figures of the Italian labour market," LEM Papers Series 2021/29, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    2. Alessandro Arrighetti & Eleonora Bartoloni & Fabio Landini & Chiara Pollio, 2019. "Exuberant Proclivity Towards Non-Standard Employment:Evidence from Linked Employer-Employee Data," Working Papers 1905, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Department of Economics, Society & Politics - Scientific Committee - L. Stefanini & G. Travaglini, revised 2019.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Firm heterogeneity; productivity; profit; misallocation; capabilities; Italy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance

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