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Why Do Inefficient Firms Survive? Management and Economic Development

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  • Michael Peters

    (MIT)

Abstract

There are large and persistent productivity differences across firms within narrowly defined industries. This is especially true in poor countries. Why do productivity differences decline as the economy develops? In this paper I propose a theory where productivity differences exist because different firms use different technologies. The negative correlation between economic development and productivity dispersion occurs because the set of economically viable techniques shrinks as the economy develops. My mechanism stresses the role of managerial inputs. If managers are essential to increase the scale of production, inefficient techniques survive in managerial-scarce economies as productive firms do not have the means to replace them. As the aggregate supply of managers increases, efficient firms expand, best-practice technologies dominate the industry and productivity differences decline. Using firm-level panel data from Chile, I test both cross-sectional and time-series implications of the theory and evaluate different approaches of how to introduce management in firms’ production function.

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  • Michael Peters, 2012. "Why Do Inefficient Firms Survive? Management and Economic Development," 2012 Meeting Papers 497, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:497
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    File URL: https://economicdynamics.org/meetpapers/2012/paper_497.pdf
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    1. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1999. "The Returns to Skill in the United States across the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 7126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341.
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