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Firm Size Evolution and Outsourcing


  • Sasan Bakhtiari

    () (School of Economics, the University of New South Wales)


This paper sheds new light on forces shaping the outsourcing decision by linking the decision to a certain form of non-linearity in overhead costs which divides a firm’s operation into small and large regimes. Marginal firms that find evolution into a large business too costly outsource in a bid to grow out of bounds instead of expanding internally. This process leads to a lumpy relationship between size and outsourcing, in which outsourcing is only practiced by narrow set of firms in the middle of the distribution. The theoretical implication for size distribution is a bunching of firms at the size where the transition to large regime takes place with a missing middle immediately following it. A panel of Australian small and medium-size firms is used to put the predictions to test with mostly supportive results. The findings open a new avenue to rethink growth and job creation amongst small businesses.

Suggested Citation

  • Sasan Bakhtiari, 2013. "Firm Size Evolution and Outsourcing," Discussion Papers 2013-07, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
  • Handle: RePEc:swe:wpaper:2013-07

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Evans, David S, 1987. "The Relationship between Firm Growth, Size, and Age: Estimates for 100 Manufacturing Industries," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 567-581, June.
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    5. Abraham, Katharine G & Taylor, Susan K, 1996. "Firms' Use of Outside Contractors: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(3), pages 394-424, July.
    6. John C. Haltiwanger & Ron S. Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2010. "Who Creates Jobs? Small vs. Large vs. Young," NBER Working Papers 16300, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Alla Lileeva & Johannes Van Biesebroeck, 2013. "Outsourcing When Investments Are Specific And Interrelated," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 871-896, August.
    8. Oliver E. Williamson, 1967. "Hierarchical Control and Optimum Firm Size," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 123-123.
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    10. Robert Breunig & Marn-Heong Wong, 2008. "A Richer Understanding of Australia's Productivity Performance in the 1990s: Improved Estimates Based Upon Firm-Level Panel Data," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 84(265), pages 157-176, June.
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    12. Stefano Federico, 2010. "Outsourcing versus integration at home or abroad and firm heterogeneity," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 47-63, February.
    13. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Integration versus Outsourcing in Industry Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 85-120.
    14. Stacy Sneeringer & Nigel Key, 2011. "Effects of Size-Based Environmental Regulations: Evidence of Regulatory Avoidance," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1189-1211.
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    More about this item


    Small Business; Outsourcing; Management Organization; Size Distribution.;

    JEL classification:

    • C38 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Classification Methdos; Cluster Analysis; Principal Components; Factor Analysis
    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • L24 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Contracting Out; Joint Ventures
    • L6 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing

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