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The Effects of Mergers and Acquisitions on the Firm Size Distribution


  • E. Cefis
  • O. Marsili
  • E.J.J Schenk


This paper provides new empirical evidence on the effects of mergers and acquisitions on the shape of the firm size distribution (FSD), by using data of the population of manufacturing firms in the Netherlands. Our analysis shows that M&As do not affect the size distribution when we consider the entire population of firms. When we focus on the firms involved in a M&A event, we observed a shift of the FSD towards larger sizes. FSD becomes more concentrated around the mean size, less skewed to the right hand side, and thinner at the tails as a whole. The shift toward higher sizes due to M&A is not uniform but affects firms of different sizes in different ways. While the number of firms in the lower tail decreased, the number of firms in the central size classes increased substantially and out weighed the increase in the number (and mean size) of firms in the upper tail of the distribution (consequently the overall market concentration measured by the Herfindhal index declines). M&As leads to a departure from log-normality of the FSD, suggesting that external growth does not follow a Gibrat’s law. Our counterfactual analysis highlights that only internal growth does not affect the shape of the size distribution of firms. On the contrary, it suggests that the change in the size distribution is almost entirely due to the external growth of the firms.

Suggested Citation

  • E. Cefis & O. Marsili & E.J.J Schenk, 2006. "The Effects of Mergers and Acquisitions on the Firm Size Distribution," Working Papers 06-17, Utrecht School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:use:tkiwps:0617

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Francesca Lotti & Enrico Santarelli, 2004. "Industry Dynamics and the Distribution of Firm Sizes: A Nonparametric Approach," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 443-466, January.
    2. Francesca Lotti & Enrico Santarelli, 2001. "Industry Dynamics and the Distribution of Firm Sizes: A Non-Parametric Approach," LEM Papers Series 2001/14, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    3. Luís M B Cabral & José Mata, 2003. "On the Evolution of the Firm Size Distribution: Facts and Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1075-1090, September.
    4. McCloughan, Patrick, 1995. "Simulation of Concentration Development from Modified Gibrat Growth-Entry-Exit Processes," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(4), pages 405-433, December.
    5. Giulio Bottazzi & Elena Cefis & Giovanni Dosi, 2002. "Corporate growth and industrial structures: some evidence from the Italian manufacturing industry," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(4), pages 705-723, August.
    6. Dickerson, Andrew P & Gibson, Heather D & Tsakalotos, Euclid, 1997. "The Impact of Acquisitions on Company Performance: Evidence from a Large Panel of UK Firms," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(3), pages 344-361, July.
    7. Ijiri, Yuji & Simon, Herbert A, 1974. "Interpretations of Departures from the Pareto Curve Firm-Size Distributions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages 315-331, Part I, M.
    8. Ijiri, Yuji & Simon, Herbert A, 1971. "Effects of Mergers and Acquisitions on Business Firm Concentration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(2), pages 314-322, March-Apr.
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    Cited by:

    1. Schneck, Stefan, 2018. "Times are a changin'? The emergence of new firms and rank persistence," Working Papers 01/18, Institut für Mittelstandsforschung (IfM) Bonn.
    2. Alex Coad & Christina Guenther, 2013. "Diversification patterns and survival as firms mature," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 633-649, October.
    3. repec:spr:jeicoo:v:12:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11403-015-0152-x is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Segarra, Agustí & Teruel, Mercedes, 2012. "An appraisal of firm size distribution: Does sample size matter?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 314-328.
    5. Bernd Ebersberger, 2011. "Public funding for innovation and the exit of firms," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 519-543, August.
    6. Gao, Baojun & Chan, Wai Kin (Victor) & Li, Hongyi, 2015. "On the increasing inequality in size distribution of China's listed companies," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 25-41.
    7. Alex Coad & Christina Guenther, 2012. "Age, diversification and survival in the German machine tool industry, 1953-2002," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2011-23, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    8. repec:eee:phsmap:v:485:y:2017:i:c:p:35-47 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Cortés, Lina M. & Mora-Valencia, Andrés & Perote, Javier, 2017. "Measuring firm size distribution with semi-nonparametric densities," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 485(C), pages 35-47.

    More about this item


    firm size distribution; Mergers and Acquisitions; firm entry and exit; industry concentration;

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General

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