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Turbulence underneath the big calm? Exploring the micro-evidence behind the flat trend of manufacturing productivity in Italy

  • Giovanni Dosi
  • Marco Grazzi
  • Chiara Tomasi
  • Alessandro Zeli

Italy ranked last in terms of manufacturing productivity growth according to OECD estimates over the last decade with a flat, if not declining, trend. In this work we investigate the underlying firm-level dynamics of enterprises on the grounds of a database developed by the Italian Statistical Office (ISTAT) covering the period 1989-2004 and containing information on more than 100,000 firms. Over the period not only the indicators of central tendency of the distribution of labour productivities have not significantly changed, but also the whole sectoral distributions have remained relatively stable over time, with their support at least not shrinking or even possibly widening over time. This is even more surprising if one takes into consideration the 'Euro' shock that occurred during the period of investigation. On the contrary we observe that inter-decile differences in productivity have been increasing. Further, heterogeneous firms' characteristics (i.e. export activity and innovativeness) appear to have contributed to boost such intra-industry differences. Given such wide heterogeneities we resort to quantile regressions to identify the impact of a set of regressors at different levels of the conditional distribution of labor productivity. One phenomenon that we observe is what we call a tendency toward 'neo-dualism' involving the co-existence of a small group of dynamic firms with a bigger ensemble of much less technologically progressive ones.

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Paper provided by Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy in its series LEM Papers Series with number 2010/03.

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Date of creation: 28 Jan 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ssa:lemwps:2010/03
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  1. Giulio Bottazzi & Angelo Secchi, 2006. "Maximum Likelihood Estimation of the Symmetric and Asymmetric Exponential Power Distribution," LEM Papers Series 2006/19, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  2. Marco Grazzi, 2009. "Trade and Profitability: Is there an export premium? Evidence from Italian manufacturing firms," LEM Papers Series 2009/16, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  3. Eric J. Bartelsman & Mark Doms, 2000. "Understanding productivity: lessons from longitudinal microdata," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-19, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Davide Castellani & Antonello Zanfei, 2007. "Internationalisation, Innovation and Productivity: How Do Firms Differ in Italy?," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(1), pages 156-176, 01.
  5. Giulio Bottazzi & Giovanni Dosi & Nadia Jacoby & Angelo Secchi & Federico Tamagni, 2009. "Corporate performances and market selection. Some comparative evidence," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00422142, HAL.
  6. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521866644 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Giulio Bottazzi & E. Cefis & Giovanni Dosi & Angelo Secchi, 2003. "Invariances and diversities in the evolution of manufacturing industries," Working Papers 03-17, Utrecht School of Economics.
  8. Bottazzi, Giulio & Grazzi, Marco & Secchi, Angelo, 2005. "Input output scaling relations in Italian manufacturing firms," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 355(1), pages 95-102.
  9. Dosi, G. & Marengo, L. & Pasquali, C., 2006. "How much should society fuel the greed of innovators?: On the relations between appropriability, opportunities and rates of innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 1110-1121, October.
  10. Giovanni Dosi & Marco Faillo & Luigi Marengo, 2003. "Organizational Capabilities, Patterns of Knowledge Accumulation and Governance Structures in Business Firms. An Introduction," LEM Papers Series 2003/11, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  11. Francesco Serti & Chiara Tomasi, 2007. "Self Selection and Post-Entry effects of Exports. Evidence from Italian Manufacturing firms," LEM Papers Series 2007/20, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  12. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521685610 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Koenker, Roger W & Bassett, Gilbert, Jr, 1978. "Regression Quantiles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 33-50, January.
  14. Giovanni Dosi & Marco Grazzi, 2006. "Technologies as problem-solving procedures and technologies as input--output relations: some perspectives on the theory of production," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 173-202, February.
  15. Giulio Bottazzi & Marco Grazzi & Angelo Secchi & Federico Tamagni, 2011. "Financial and economic determinants of firm default," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 373-406, August.
  16. Teece, David J. & Rumelt, Richard & Dosi, Giovanni & Winter, Sidney, 1994. "Understanding corporate coherence : Theory and evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 1-30, January.
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