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Survival and Success among African Manufacturing Firms

  • Alan Harding

    (Centre for the Study of African Economies)

  • Måns Söderbom

    (Centre for the Study of African Economies)

  • Francis Teal

    (Centre for the Study of African Economies)

Recent reforms in most African economies of their trading and exchange rate regimes have eliminated much of the protection which previously limited competition. Despite these reforms, African manufacturing firms remain unsuccessful, particularly in international export markets. In this paper we consider the roles of learning, competition and market imperfections in determining three aspects of firm performance, namely firm exit, firm growth and productivity growth. We use a pooled panel data set of firms in Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania that spans a period of five years. We find that the main determinant of exit is firm size, with small firms having much higher exit rates than large ones.Productivity impacts on firm survival among large firms, but not among small firms. Reasons for this result are discussed. We find evidence that, among surviving firms, old firms grow slower than young firms, which is interpreted as evidence consistent with market constraints limiting growth of firms in Africa. We find no evidence that larger firms have faster rates of productivity or input growth, or are more efficient in the sense of benefiting from scale economies. We also find that competitive pressure enhances productivity growth. Given that one of the objectives of the reform programmes implemented in all three countries was to stimulate higher efficiency levels, this finding shows that one aspect of the reform programme has been successful.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Development and Comp Systems with number 0409046.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 28 Sep 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpdc:0409046
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 33
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  19. Bigsten Arne & Collier Paul & Dercon Stefan & Fafchamps Marcel & Gauthier Bernard & Gunning Jan Willem & Oostendorp Remco & Pattillo Catherine & Söderbom Måns & Teal Francis, 2005. "Adjustment Costs and Irreversibility as Determinants of Investment: Evidence from African Manufacturing," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-29, October.
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