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Market structure, productivity and scale in European business services

  • Kox, Henk L.M.
  • Leeuwen, George van
  • Wiel, Henry van der

Using data from 11 EU countries, the paper investigates the impact of scale economies on labour productivity in European business services. Moreover, it analyses whether the incidence of scale sub-optimality is related to characteristics of the market or to national regulation characteristics. The econometric analysis is based on a production function model in combination with a distance-to-the-frontier model. We find evidence for the existence of increasing returns to scale in business services firms. A result is that throughout the EU, business-services firms with less than 20 employed persons have a significantly lower level of labour productivity than the rest of the business-services industry. Two factors explain the scale inefficiencies. The first is the level of policy-caused firm-entry costs; higher start-up costs for new firms go along with more scale inefficiency. Secondly, business-services markets tend to be segmented by firm size: firms tend to compete predominantly with firms in their own size segment of the markets. Scale-related inefficiencies are to some extent compensated by more competition within a firm's own size segment. If a firm operates in a more “crowded” segment this has a significant and positive impact on its labour productivity. We derive some policy implications from our findings.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 6137.

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Date of creation: Nov 2007
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:6137
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  1. Fabiani, Silvia & Druant, Martine & Hernando, Ignacio & Kwapil, Claudia & Landau, Bettina & Loupias, Claire & Martins, Fernando & Matha, Thomas & Sabbatini, Roberto & Stahl, Harald & Stokman, Ad, 2006. "What Firms' Surveys Tell Us about Price-Setting Behavior in the Euro Area," MPRA Paper 808, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Fabio Schiantarelli, 2005. "Product Market Regulation and Macroeconomic Performance: A Review of Cross Country Evidence," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 623, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 04 Aug 2008.
  3. Kumbhakar, Subal C & Ghosh, Soumendra & McGuckin, J Thomas, 1991. "A Generalized Production Frontier Approach for Estimating Determinants of Inefficiency in U.S. Dairy Farms," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 9(3), pages 279-86, July.
  4. S. Fabiani & M. Druant & I. Hernando & C. Kwapil & B. Landau & C. Loupias & F. Martins & T. Mathä & R. Sabbatini & H. Stahl & A. Stokman, 2005. "The pricing behaviour of firms in the euro area : new survey evidence," Working Paper Research 76, National Bank of Belgium.
  5. Giuseppe Nicoletti & Stefano Scarpetta & Olivier Boylaud, 2000. "Summary Indicators of Product Market Regulation with an Extension to Employment Protection Legislation," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 226, OECD Publishing.
  6. Kim, H Youn, 1992. "The Translog Production Function and Variable Returns to Scale," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 546-52, August.
  7. Stefano Scarpetta & Philip Hemmings & Thierry Tressel & Jaejoon Woo, 2002. "The Role of Policy and Institutions for Productivity and Firm Dynamics: Evidence from Micro and Industry Data," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 329, OECD Publishing.
  8. Fuss, Melvyn & McFadden, Daniel, 1978. "Production Economics: A Dual Approach to Theory and Applications (I): The Theory of Production," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, volume 1, number fuss1978.
  9. Henk Kox, 2002. "Growth challenges for the Dutch business services industry; international comparison and policy issues," CPB Special Publication 40, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
  10. Henk L.M. Kox, 2004. "The contribution of business services to aggregate productivity growth," Industrial Organization 0402005, EconWPA.
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