1 Advanced Development Economics: Business Environment and Firm Performance Måns Söderbom 20 October 2009
2 1 Introduction Over the last two decades there have been radical changes in economic policy in many developing countries including most of Africa. A common factor in these changes has been a transition from economies where government controls were extensive to more open, market-oriented, regimes. The private sector thus plays a crucial role in the development process, and it is important that this sector performs well. Indeed, the main reason we are interested in understanding the determinants of performance in the private sector is that better performance raises the incomes and the standards of living of people in poor countries.
3 In this lecture we have a look at the microeconomics of rms in developing countries. The research papers underlying the lecture are the following ones: Bigsten, A., Söderbom, M. (2006), "What Have We Learned from a Decade of Manufacturing Enterprise Surveys in Africa?",World Bank Research Observer, 21(2): Dollar, David, Mary Hallward-Driemeier and Taye Mengistae (2005). Investment Climate and Firm Performance in Developing Countries, Economic Development and Cultural Change vol. 54, No 1.. Van Biesebroeck, J. Firm Size Matters: Growth and Productivity Growth in African Manufacturing, Economic Development and Cultural Change, 2005, 53 (3).
4 The rst and the last of these are concerned with African rms whereas the second looks at rms in Asia. One good way to make use of these papers when revising for the exam is to refer to them when reading the present notes, in case you need more details or a more complete discussion. In principle, however, if you know and understand the material covered in my lecture notes you should be able to answer my exam question(s). Thus there s no need to read every single letter in the above papers if you are short of time.
5 2 Business Environment & Firm Performance in Africa The focus is on the manufacturing sector - two main reasons: The manufacturing sector is often perceived to be special Leading edge of "modernization"; Creates skilled jobs; Generates technological spillover e ects.
6 Manufacturing growth not constrained by land (scarce). With high population growth & pressure on land, diversi cation beyond agriculture is necessary. Further, manufacturing exports was a key factor in the rapid development of the Asian tigers - can manufacturing in countries that are poor today serve as a similar engine of growth? We should remember, however, that Africa s manufacturing sector is relatively small. [Table: The relative size of manufacturing in Africa & China]
7 Table 3: Sectoral value added as % of GDP in SSA and China Sub-Saharan Africa Agriculture Industry manufacturing Services China Agriculture Industry manufacturing Services Source: WDI 2009
8 2.1 African manufacturing: An overview of leading issues and ndings Reference: Bigsten and Söderbom (2006). Prior to the 1990s, very little data existed on enterprises in Africa. It was clear, however, that manufacturing did not perform well in most African countries. In the early 1990s, to get a better idea of why things were going wrong in the manufacturing sector and how to improve them, the World Bank elded extensive data collection projects in many African countries A key objective of these projects was to collect survey data on a large number of individual manufacturing rms. A survey would typically cover
9 hundreds, sometimes thousands, of rms. The data are well suited to statistical analysis. The rms can often be followed over time, enabling researchers to document growth patterns. These data has generated a lot of empirical research. A rather general nding is as follows: While most African rms have not fared well during the last decade, some have performed extremely well. There is thus substantial heterogeneity in choices and outcomes across rms within countries in Africa. Compare & contrast such cases. What drives success? Firm-level data are very useful for this type of analysis.
10 Bigsten and Söderbom (2006) survey this line of research, focussing on the business environment and enterprise performance. We re going to have a look at the main results.
11 2.1.1 The business environment The business environment = the prime suspect for explaining the poor enterprise performance in Africa. Improving the investment climate is seen as a policy priority for the continent. Leading constraints to doing business, cited by enterprise managers in Africa, are as follows: Financing Corruption Infrastructure
12 In ation One implication of a poor investment climate is that the cost for services important for manufacturers will be high. We now know that African rms have high indirect costs (transport, logistics, telecommunications, water, electricity, land and buildings, marketing, accounting, security, bribes) compared with rms in Asia and that African rms su er substantial losses from power outages, crime, shipment losses, and the like.
13 Risk. The African business environment exhibits considerable uncertainty - e.g. with regard to prices (including foreign exchange), demand, customer payment, reliability of infrastructure, and corruption. This is probably harmful for growth; however, investigating the e ects of risk empirically is di cult since risk is not easily measured. Fafchamps, Gunning, and Oostendorp (2000) show that Zimbabwean rms respond to risk by increasing their inventories, another example of how risk leads to conservative behavior and additional costs. Pattillo (1998) uses data on entrepreneurs subjective (or perceived) probability distribution over future demand, to calculate the variance of demand. Using this as a measure of uncertainty, she reports empirical results indicating that uncertainty has a negative e ect on investment.
14 Access to credit. Are African rms constrained by poor access to credit? Data on rms demand for external funds and on whether rms have had their loan applications approved shed, some light on this. Data (for the early and mid 1990s) indicate the demand for formal loans among African manufacturers is low: less than 20% of the rms surveyed had applied for a formal loan in the year prior to the survey. Among those applying, the majority of rms obtained loans, but there are large di erences by rm size. Loan applications are less common among small rms, and the success rate is lower than among larger rms. [Table 1 about here]
15 Of course, a rm may be credit constrained even if it does not apply for a loan. A rm may expect an application to fail precisely because there are credit constraints and may therefore decide to avoid the transaction costs and not apply. Based on information on why rms did not apply for a loan ("did not want a loan", "too costly", "didn t think I d get one" etc.), three groups of rms are distinguished: those without a demand for credit (55%) those with a demand for credit but constrained (33%) those with a demand for credit and unconstrained (12%) Large di erences are across rms of di erent sizes. Close to two-thirds of the micro rms appear constrained, but only 10 percent of the large rms.
16 About two-thirds of the large rms choose not to participate in the credit market compared with only a third of the micro rms. For a micro rm to have the same chance of getting a loan as a large rm, the micro rm needs to have an average return on xed capital more than 200 percentage points higher than the large rm. [Table 2]
18 Labor and skills. Labor costs and the supply of labor and skills are important for rm performance. Two common results in this area have emerged from the research on the African survey data: 1. Earnings and productivity are positively correlated with workers education. 2. Wages di er signi cantly across rms of di ering size, even when comparing workers with similar levels of human capital. These results suggest that earnings rise with rm growth. Combined with the insights from the research on credit and investment, this gives a picture in which small rms have relatively low labor costs but high capital costs; while large rms have relatively high labor costs and low capital
19 costs. This might explain why the capital-labor ratio is much higher in relatively large rms (note "large" is relative - by international standards, nearly all rms in these samples are small).
20 Structure of the manufacturing sector A lot of very small and informal rms operate side by side with a small number of large-scale factories. Is this good use of scarce resources, or will there be a deadweight loss due to ine cient resource allocation? Consider the production function y i = l i + k i + a i ; where y i ; l i ; k i denote log output, labour and capital, respectively, and a i is total factor productivity (TFP). TFP is generally unobserved. If + = 1,we have constant returns to scale; if + > 1 then increasing returns to scale; if + < 1 then decreasing returns to scale.
21 Kenyan survey data indicate no signi cant di erence in TFP (a i ) between small informal and small formal African-owned rms. A reallocation of rms from the informal to the formal sector would thus not necessarily a ect aggregate productivity. Moreover, there is little evidence of increasing returns to scale in Africa s manufacturing sector. Typically, we cannot reject H 0 : + = 1. Nevertheless, there is little investment and little exporting in the informal sector, and so growth in this sector is unlikely to be a source of signi cant modernization. Further, wages in the informal sector are low, and contributions to tax revenues miniscule. There is therefore a case for policies to encourage the formalization of informal rms.
22 2.1.2 Enterprise performance Enterprise growth. Which types of rms grow? Recall that most rms in Africa are very small. How realistic is it to hope that some of these rms will grow and become successful large rms? Will new rms survive and grow? A common way of investigating the relationships between growth on the one hand and size and rm age on the other is to run regressions of the growth rate of employment between two periods on the explanatory variables employment and age in the initial period, e.g. log L t = log L start up + 2 Age + residual Several such studies have found a negative relationship between size and growth - i.e. 1 and 2 tend to be negative.
23 Quite possibly, the modelling framework above is not general enough. A famous paper by Sleuwaegen and Goedhuys (2002), cited in Bigsten & Söderbom, report results indicating that small and large rms have very di erent growth patterns: high growth tends to be observed mostly among the small and young rms and the large and old rms. On rm survival, the data indicate high exit rates especially among the smallest rms. We have found that high productivity reduces the likelihood of exit for relatively large rms but not for small rms. In other words, being relatively more productive does not prevent rms from going out of business if they are small.
24 Investment African nancial markets are the least developed in the world. One worry is that this may hold back investment - i.e. rms with pro table investment projects may not be able to proceed with the investment because of lack of nance. However if rms have no desire to invest, nancial imperfections do not translate into binding constraints, so it s not obvious that nancial imperfections always hamper investment. Bigsten and others (1999b), cited in Bigsten & Söderbom, test whether investment is sensitive to changes in cash ow among rms observed in the early and mid-1990s in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. Why is such an analysis telling us anything about the role of credit constraints? The main idea is that, if it s hard to get credit, then if your own cash- ow increases this improves your ability to nance investment; however, if rms are not credit constrained, then changes to cash- ow won t matter so much for investment.
25 The evidence from the data indicates that there is a statistically significant pro t e ect on investment, which suggests the presence of credit constraints. However, the e ect is small: only between $0.06 and $0.10 cents of an additional $1 earned in pro ts are invested. Subsequent research documents a larger pro t e ect among smaller rms, which is consistent with the notion that credit access is more of a problem for small rms. However, the estimated e ect is still rather low (between $0.11, cents of an additional $1 earned in pro ts are invested)
26 Exports Manufacturing rms in Africa operate in small domestic markets. To expand production, rms may have to orient part of their production toward exporting. Important questions: What factors prevent African rms from entering export markets? An important factor determining whether a rm participates in the export market is the level of entry barriers. An indirect test for entry barriers is based on the following idea. With high entry barriers, it is costly for non-exporters to become exporters; but rms that have been exporters in the past can continue to supply the international market at relatively low cost. That is, once you have entered the exports market, you are likely to remain an exporter for some time, if entry costs are high. In the African data, few rms change export status over time, suggesting that entry costs are indeed high.
27 Are there any bene ts, other than market enlargement, associated with exporting? In particular, is there any evidence that rms become more productive as a result of exporting, perhaps because of contacts with foreign customers or exposure to international competition? In most datasets, exporting is concentrated amongst the more productive rms - i.e. exports and productivity positively correlated. In the literature there are two hypotheses with regard to the relation between exporting and productivity: self-selection: more e cient rms choose to export (causality from e ciency to exporting)
28 learning-by-exporting: rms become more e cient as a result of exporting (causality from exporting to e ciency) The two hypotheses are not mutually exclusive. Most studies for high and middle income countries have found evidence supporting the self-selection hypothesis but not learning-by exporting. But now some evidence that learning-by-exporting holds for Africa - i.e. rms become more productive as a result of exporting. This suggests that active policies encouraging exports may help African rms to become more competitive.
29 But then the high entry costs are problematic. Reducing these will help rms access a larger market, and may even result in learning-by-exporting e ects on productivity.
30 2.1.3 Summary & Conclusions in Bigsten & Söderbom Four main ndings: 1. Investment in new equipment has remained low. Lack of credit appears not to be the main reason; high risk and low demand are more important factors. Caveat: Credit more important for the very smallest rms. 2. Manufactured exports from Africa remains low. Costs of entering the exports market appear high, and unless these can be reduced, we think chances are small that this will change in the foreseeable future. 3. Being exposed to international competition through exporting raises productivity.
31 4. Firm performance is hampered by poorly integrated domestic markets for labor and capital. Small rms face relatively low labour costs and high capital costs; large rms face high labour costs and low capital costs.
32 3 Firm Size, Growth and Productivity Growth Reference: Van Biesebroeck (2005). The paper by Van Biesebroeck (2005) summarizes some important insights regarding the connections between rm size and growth in employment and productivity in African manufacturing. The paper makes use of rm-level survey data collected in Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe between 1992 and Around 200 rms per country & year, short panels, 4 sub-sectors, wide size range, wide range of variables.. [Table 1 here]
33 Industry has small employment share, larger GDP share Most surveyed firms are very small. And note that large firms are overrepresented in these samples.
34 3.1 Productivity Two productivity measures are used in the analysis: Labour productivity, de ned: LP = value-added number of employees Total factor productivity, de ned: Y T F P = L s lk (1 s L) ; where Y is value-added, L is labour, K is physical capital (measured as the replacement value of plant & equipment), and s L is the wage share
35 in value added. Notice that this is essentially the same approach as that often adopted in the macro literature. Key result: "In Africa, size is unusually important for success" (Van Biesebroeck, 2005, p.554). Old rms have somewhat higher labour productivity than young rms. Large rms have (much) higher labour productivity than small ones. But di erences in TFP are typically small and statistically insigni cant across age and size groups. [Discuss gures 1-2 in Van Biesebroeck here]
36 Firm age and productivity Old firms higher labour productivity than young firms No obvious differences across age groups in total factor productivity. Implication: Old firmshavemorecapitalper worker. They also have more human capital per worker (schooling, experience).
37 Firm size and productivity Large firms have much higher labour productivity than small firms Much smaller differences across size groups in total factor productivity. Implication: Large firms have more capital per worker. They also have more human capital per worker (schooling, experience)
38 3.2 Firm growth Recall: heterogeneity in performance across rms - some rms do very well, others pretty badly. Are there any systematic di erences in the characteristics of such heterogeneous rms? Can we "predict" what type of rm is likely to grow, for example? Table 5 in Van Biesebroeck shows results from OLS regressions in which growth in size and productivity are modelled as functions of rm age, size, ownership, the capital-labour ratio, investment, location, exporting... [Discuss Table 5]
39 Large firms have relatively high employment growth rates, but no difference in value added growth. This is in marked contrast with the literature based on other countries suggests divergence in size. Large firms remain large. Young firms have relatively high growth rates in employment & value added
40 3.3 Conclusions The presence of many micro and small rms in developing countries has often led researchers and multinational institutions to emphasize the development of smaller rms. However, the results in this article illustrate the superior performance of large rms. Firms employing 100 or more workers are shown to be more productive and more likely to survive (I have not discussed rm survival - see paper for details). This is in line with results for more developed countries.
41 In addition, large rms also grow more rapidly and improve productivity faster, conditional on other covariates or on previous performance. Large rms remain large, and more productive rms remain at the top of the distribution. Smaller and less productive rms have a very hard time advancing in the size or productivity distribution. Micro and small rms make a positive contribution to aggregate labor productivity growth, however the evolution of aggregate productivity growth is largely determined by the performance of large rms.
42 4 The Impact of the Investment Climate on Performance: Evidence for Asian Firms Reference: Dollar, David, Mary Hallward-Driemeier and Taye Mengistae (2005). Investment Climate and Firm Performance in Developing Countries, Economic Development and Cultural Change vol. 54, No 1. Following Dollar et al. (2005), we de ne the investment climate as "the institutional, policy, and regulatory environment in which rms operate - factors that in uence the link from sowing to reaping". This concept is thus closely related to the macroeconomic literature on institutions or social infrastructure.
43 A common view amongst economists is that many of the problems faced by rms in developing countries can be linked to the nature of the business environments, or the "investment climate", in which the rms operate. For example, it is sometimes argued that the poor investment climate in Africa results in high transaction costs and particularly disadvantages the manufacturing sector, because manufacturers are intensive users of investment climate services. The paper by Dollar, Hallward-Driemeier and Mengistae (2005; from now on referred to as Dollar et al., 2005) investigates how poor investment climate services impact rm performance in Bangladesh, China, India and Pakistan.
44 Main investment climate indicators. Days to clear customs (imports) Days to clear customs (exports) Power loss (% of sales) Days for phone line Proportion of rms with overdraft facility
45 From now on, I ll refer to these as IC indicators. Dollar et all show that there are statistically signi cant di erences across countries and across locations within countries in many of the indicators. Customs clearance is faster in China than in Bangladesh, and faster in Bangladesh than in Pakistan. Overall, China looks the best of the four countries using many of the measures (fast customs clearance, fast access to new phone lines, and few power outages) [Table I in Dollar et al]
47 Research strategy. Investigate how variation in the IC indicators (averaged by sector and location) correlate with Total factor productivity (TFP) Factor prices Growth of output, capital and employment.
48 4.1 The impact of the investment climate on productivity Main idea: Bureaucratic harassment, power outages, and so on, result in less value added being produced from the same capital and labor. Can learn about the e ects of these problems by comparing outcomes in environments across which the investment climate di ers. The starting point is to estimate a Cobb-Douglas production function for a sample of rms in the garments sector in the four countries. Based on this, the authors estimate TFP and then go on to explain variation in TFP with the investment climate variables. Let s have a look at the di erent steps involved.
49 4.1.1 The production function Technology is speci ed (see p.11 in the paper) as Cobb-Douglas: y it = 0 + L l it + K k it + m m it +! it + " it ; (1) where y it denotes log gross output; l it is log employment; k it is log physical capital (equipment); m it is log materials;! it + " it is unobserved total factor productivity (TFP), where! it is persistent and " it is transitory with no impact on rm decisions. The subscripts i; t index rms and time periods, respectively (each rm is observed more than once). All nancial variables are expressed in real US$. It follows from the above de nition that TFP can be written T F P it = y it L l it K k it m m it ; (2)
50 and so if we knew the parameters L ; K ; m we could calculate TFP. Of course we don t know these parameters, but we can estimate them by applying some suitable regression technique to eq (1). Consider using ordinary least squares to estimate (1). Would this work? As you probably remember, OLS will not give consistent and unbiased estimates if the explanatory variables are correlated with the error term. Because TFP is unobserved, the term! it + " it will inevitably go into the error term. Might! it + " it be correlated with labor, capital or material inputs? Yes, economic theory suggests this might well happen. Suppose rms choose labour input so as to maximize pro ts, for example: max L R = P Y W L (3)
51 where W is the wage rate and P the unit output price. Assuming that both prices are exogenous, the rst-order condition for optimal labour is i! = W: (4) In this model, everything else equal, rms with high TFP will choose more labor - hence l it is correlated with the error term in (1). The authors discuss this and their proposed solution to the problem on pp They end up adopting a procedure developed by Levinsohn and Petrin (2003; LP). We now know, however, that this method is not very robust. So please ignore the LP methods and the associated results when reading this paper. Focus instead on the generalized least squares (GLS) random e ects results (GLS is very similar to OLS so don t worry if you have not heard of GLS; note that, just like the OLS estimator, GLS will not work if inputs are
52 correlated with the error term). parameters are shown in Table 2. GLS estimates of the production function [Table 2 here]
53 Focus on these (ignore this column)
54 4.1.2 Explaining TFP Based on the production function estimates, the authors calculate TFP using the formula in (2). Armed with their TFP estimates, the authors go on to model TFP as a function of the investment climate variables in a second step: Results are shown in Table 3 T F P it = 0 X it + u it [Discuss Table 3]
55 Table 3: Explaining productivity in the garments industry Note this is is the left part of Table 3, shown on p. 16 in the Dollar et al paper (I am cutting out the results based on the LP procedure since flawed). How interpret point estimates? How interpret absolute z- values? What does year dummies: Yes mean? What might Prob>χ 2 mean? What s the difference between (1) and (2), really? Note: GLS = Generalized Least Squares. Absolute z-values in parentheses. Significance at 1%, 5%, 10% level is indicated by ***, ** and *, respectively.
56 4.2 E ects on factor rewards and growth Factor rewards. The second empirical component of the paper is to link the IC indicators to factor rewards: wages and returns on capital. The basic idea: greater factor productivity implies higher factor rewards, and so good IC should be associated with relatively high wages and returns on capital. Results for wages in Table 4: Power loss is found to have a negative e ect; the other IC coe cients are typically insigni cant or signi cant with the wrong sign (customs days for exports). Results for returns on capital in Table 5: Customs clearance time for exports negative and signi cant; phone delays positive ( wrong ) and signi - cant. The rest largely insigni cant.
57 Growth. The nal empirical component is to link the IC variables to growth of output, capital and employment. The results are quite mixed. In the output growth regression, for instance, export customs delays, power losses and overdraft facilities have signi cant coe cients with the expected signs. However, delays in getting phone lines has a positive coe cient.
58 4.3 Summarizing the authors conclusions Investment climate matters for the level of productivity, wages, pro t rates, and the growth rates of output, employment, and capital stock at the rm level. These results as consistent with the larger literature on the importance of institutions and policies for economic growth. For productivity and pro tability, power outages and customs delays are the most serious bottlenecks. This suggests that the government s role in providing a good regulatory framework for infrastructure is important.
59 Measures of governance and corruption do not explain di erences in outcomes across the locations. Hence the authors tentatively conclude that the government s role in providing a framework for very speci c services that rms need seems more important than general issues of governance and corruption.
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