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Inventory and the Shape of the Earth

  • Lai, Richard

How important are local country conditions to firms' operations performance, as revealed in their inventory levels? Under a “flat world” hypothesis, differences in firms' inventory levels are explained more by differences among industries and firms themselves, rather than differences among country conditions (e.g., institutions, infrastructure). In a “round earth” hypothesis, country factors out-weigh firm and industry factors. Using all COMPUSTAT observations for manufacturing firms in 70 countries, covering the years 1994 through 2004, we find little evidence for the “round earth” hypothesis. In our baseline model, country effects explain at most 12.7% of inventory variance, while firm differences explain 35.5%, and industry differences explain 28.5%. This finding is robust to a number of sensitivity tests. Apart from the empirical contribution, this finding can be a useful stylized fact for further theoretical development into the locus of inventory variance. It also has a practical implication - perhaps inventory practices are much more transportable across countries than we have known before.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 4754.

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Date of creation: 19 Jul 2007
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:4754
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  1. Zeira, Joseph, 1995. "Workers, Machines and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1139, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Susanto Basu & David N. Weil, 1998. "Appropriate Technology And Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1025-1054, November.
  3. Hong Chen & Murray Z. Frank & Owen Q. Wu, 2005. "What Actually Happened to the Inventories of American Companies Between 1981 and 2000?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(7), pages 1015-1031, July.
  4. Jonathan McCarthy & Egon Zakrajsek, 2003. "Inventory dynamics and business cycles: what has changed?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-26, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Kristin J. Forbes & Roberto Rigobon, 2002. "No Contagion, Only Interdependence: Measuring Stock Market Comovements," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(5), pages 2223-2261, October.
  6. Gabriel Hawawini & Venkat Subramanian & Paul Verdin, 2003. "Is performance driven by industry or firm-specific factors? A new look at the evidence," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/14188, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  7. Dale W. Jorgenson, 1991. "Productivity and Economic Growth," NBER Chapters, in: Fifty Years of Economic Measurement: The Jubilee of the Conference on Research in Income and Wealth, pages 19-118 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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