nep-bec New Economics Papers
on Business Economics
Issue of 2008‒06‒13
25 papers chosen by
Christian Calmes
University of Quebec in Ottawa

  1. A model of delegated project choice By Armstrong, Mark; Vickers, John
  2. Determinants of Business Success: An Examination of Asian-Owned Businesses in the United States By Alicia M. Robb; Robert W. Fairlie
  3. The Development and Implementation of a Coding Scheme to Analyse Interview Dynamics in the British Household Panel Survey By Peter Lynn; Emanuela Sala; S.C. Noah Uhrig
  4. Productive, Unproductive and Destructive Entrepreneurship: A Theoretical and Empirical Exploration By Arnis Sauka
  5. Distance to Frontier and Appropriate Business Strategy By Alex Coad
  6. When is some number really better than no number? On the optimal choice between non-market valuation methods By Munro, Alistair
  7. Competition and Relational Contracts: The Role of Unemployment as a Disciplinary Device By Brown, Martin; Falk, Armin; Fehr, Ernst
  8. Competition, Human Capital and Income Inequality with Limited Commitment By Ramon Marimon; Vincenzo Quadrini
  9. Extracting the Cyclical Component in Hours Worked: a Bayesian Approach By Bernardi, Mauro; Della Corte, Giuseppe; Proietti, Tommaso
  10. Relative Risk Aversion Is Constant: Evidence from Panel Data By Pierre-André Chiappori; Monica Paiella
  11. The Young, the Old, and the Restless: Demographics and Business Cycle Volatility By Nir Jaimovich; Henry E. Siu
  12. The Macroeconomic Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States By Jonathan Heathcote; Kjetil Storesletten; Giovanni L. Violante
  13. Market Liquidity, Asset Prices and Welfare By Jennifer Huang; Jiang Wang
  14. Modelling the costs of non-conventional oil: A case study of Canadian bitumen By Méjean, A.; Hope, C.
  15. L’influence de la dispersion salariale sur la performance des grandes entreprises belges By Benoît Mahy; François Rycx; Mélanie Volral
  16. Towards a Spatial Theory of Organizations Creating new organizational forms to improve business performance By René Tissen, Tissen; Lekanne Deprez, Frank
  17. The executive turnover risk premium By Florian S. PETERS; Alexander F. WAGNER
  18. Labour market discrimination as an agency cost By Pierre-Guillaume Méon; Ariane Szafarz
  19. Optimal ownership in joint ventures with contributions of asymmetric partners By Marinucci, Marco
  20. Corporate Governance and the Value of Excess Cash Holdings of Large European Firms By Schauten, M.B.J.; Dijk, D.J.C. van; Waal, J-P. van der
  21. Privatising national oil companies: Assessing the impact on firm performance By Wolf, C.; Pollitt, M.G.
  22. Is the Growing Skill Premium a Purely Metropolitan Issue? By Chul Chung; Jeremy Clark; Bonggeun Kim
  23. Trends in Men's Earnings Volatility: What Does the Panel Study of Income Dynamics Show? By Donggyun Shin; Gary Solon
  24. Explaining Preferences and Actual Involvement in Self-Employment: New Insights into the role of Gender By Roy Thurik; Ingrid Verheul; Isabel Grilo
  25. Estimating Union Wage Effects in Great Britain During 1991-2003 By Georgios Marios Chrysanthou

  1. By: Armstrong, Mark; Vickers, John
    Abstract: We present a model in which a principal delegates the choice of project to an agent with different preferences. The principal determines the set of projects from which the agent may choose. The principal can verify the characteristics of the project chosen by the agent, but does not know which other projects are available to the agent. Two frameworks are considered: (i) a static setting in which the collection of available projects is exogenous to the agent but uncertain, and (ii) a dynamic setting in which the agent searches for projects.
    Keywords: Delegation; principal-agent; rules; search; merger policy
    JEL: D86 D83 L4
    Date: 2008–06–05
  2. By: Alicia M. Robb; Robert W. Fairlie
    Abstract: Using confidential microdata from the U.S. Census Bureau, we investigate the performance of Asian-owned businesses. Using regression estimates and a special nonlinear decomposition technique, we explore the role that class resources, such as financial capital and human capital, play in contributing to the relative success of Asian businesses. We find that Asian-owned businesses are more successful than white-owned businesses for two main reasons – Asian owners have high levels of human capital and their businesses have substantial startup capital. Using detailed information on both the owner and the firm, we estimate the explanatory power of several additional factors. This research was partially funded by the Russell Sage Foundation and Kauffman Foundation. The research in this paper was conducted while the authors were Special Sworn Status researchers of the U.S. Census Bureau at the Center for Economic Studies and California Research Data Center at U.C. Berkeley. This paper has been screened to insure that no confidential data are revealed. The data can be obtained at a Census Research Data Center or at the Center for Economic Studies (CES) only after approval by the CES and IRS. See for details on the application and approval process. The views expressed here are solely the responsibility of the authors and should not be interpreted as reflecting the views of the Russell Sage Foundation, the Kauffman Foundation, the U.S. Census Bureau, or the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
    Keywords: Asian, entrepreneurship, business outcomes
    JEL: J15 L26
    Date: 2008–02
  3. By: Peter Lynn (Institute for Social and Economic Research); Emanuela Sala (Institute for Social and Economic Research); S.C. Noah Uhrig (Institute for Social and Economic Research)
    Abstract: The study of interviewer-respondent interaction that occurs during an interview can give very useful insights into the cognitive process of answering questions, the social dynamics that develop in an interview context and the way these dynamics ultimately impact data quality. Behaviour coding is a technique used to code such interactions. Despite its long-standing use, little is written about the procedures to be followed while developing a coding scheme. This paper provides a practical background on the development and implementation of the behaviour coding scheme adopted to explore interview dynamics in the framework of dependent interviewing. This schema was used to code approximately 150 previously transcribed interviews of wave 16 British Household Panel Study. Coding strategies and procedures, coder recruitment and training reliability assessments as well as timetable and costs are documented and discussed.
    Keywords: dependent interviewing, interviewers
    Date: 2008–05
  4. By: Arnis Sauka
    Abstract: Drawing on Baumol’s concepts of productive, unproductive and destructive entrepreneurship and relevant amendments, this thesis aims to contribute to the entrepreneurship literature by developing a conceptual framework which allows operationalising the concepts for empirical assessment. Furthermore, using data from longitudinal survey, author makes one of the first attempts to address the concepts empirically. The results provide with support for the conceptual framework highlighting the importance to shift the focus from firms’ activities to output on both, venture and societal levels, short and long term, when concepts are addressed empirically. Overall findings suggest that productive entrepreneurs are those who are less involved in behaviour such as tax avoidance or illegal business and show a higher level of entrepreneurial orientation.
    Keywords: value creation; productive, unproductive and destructive entrepreneurship; transition context, small firms
    JEL: L26 E26 H26
    Date: 2008–03–01
  5. By: Alex Coad
    Abstract: This paper is an empirical test of the hypothesis that the appropriateness of different business strategies is conditional on the firms distance to the industry frontier. We use data on four 2-digit high-tech manufacturing industries in the US over the period 1972-1999, and apply semi-parametric quantile regressions to investigate the contribution of firm behavior to market value at various points of the conditional distribution of Tobin's q. Among our results, we observe that innovative activity, measured in terms of R&D expenditure or patents, has a strong positive association with market value at the upper quantiles (corresponding to the leader firms) whereas the innovative efforts of laggard firms are valued significantly less. Laggard firms, we suggest, should instead achieve productivity growth through efficient exploitation of existing technologies and imitation of industry leaders. Employment growth in leader firms is encouraged whereas growth of backward firms is not as well received on the stock market.
    Keywords: Distance to frontier, Strategy, Market value, Innovation, Firm Growth
    JEL: L25 L21 D21 O31
    Date: 2008–06–03
  6. By: Munro, Alistair
    Abstract: Decision-makers have a wide variety of competing and complementary methods for non-market valuation, but there is little formal advice on the choice of method. I offer a formal approach, using a loss function (the mean square error) to compare contingent valuation, Citizens'Jury and methods where by intention only a portion of total value is estimated, when a) preferences vary across the population and b) methods are more or less susceptible to framing effects. Illustrative simulations suggest con-ditions under which the Citizens'Jury may dominate contingent valuation when framing effects are significant.
    Keywords: contingent valuation; Citizens' Jury; optimal decisions; framing effects; cost-benefit analysis
    JEL: D61 Q51 D01
    Date: 2007–09–20
  7. By: Brown, Martin (Swiss National Bank); Falk, Armin (University of Bonn); Fehr, Ernst (University of Zurich)
    Abstract: When unemployment prevails, relations with a particular firm are valuable for workers. As a consequence, a worker may adhere to an implicit agreement to provide high effort, even when performance is no third-party enforceable. But can implicit agreements - or relational contracts - also motivate high worker performance when the labor market is tight? We examine this question by implementing an experimental market in which there is an excess demand for labor and the performance of workers is not third-party enforceable. We show that relational contracts emerge in which firms reward performing workers with wages that exceed the going market rate. This motivates workers to provide high effort, even though they could shirk and switch firms. Our results thus suggest that unemployment is not a necessary device to motivate workers. We also discuss how market conditions affect relational contracting by comparing identical labor markets with excess supply and excess demand for labor. Long-term relationships turn out to be less frequent when there is excess demand for labor compared to a market characterized by unemployment. Surprisingly though, this does not compromise market performance.
    Keywords: Relational Contracts; Involuntary Unemployment
    JEL: C90 D82 E24 J30 J41
    Date: 2008–02–01
  8. By: Ramon Marimon; Vincenzo Quadrini
    Abstract: We develop a dynamic general equilibrium model with two-sided limited commitment to study how barriers to competition, such as restrictions to business start-up, affect the incentive to accumulate human capital. We show that a lack of contract enforceability amplifies the effect of barriers to competition on human capital accumulation. High barriers reduce the incentive to accumulate human capital by lowering the outside value of ‘skilled workers’, while low barriers can result in over-accumulation of human capital. This over-accumulation can be socially optimal if there are positive knowledge spillovers. A calibration exercise shows that this mechanism can account for significant cross-country income inequality.
    Keywords: Limited commitment, limited enforcement, human capital accumulation, income inequality, innovation, barriers to competition.
    JEL: D99 E20 J24 O15 O34 O43
    Date: 2008
  9. By: Bernardi, Mauro; Della Corte, Giuseppe; Proietti, Tommaso
    Abstract: The series on average hours worked in the manufacturing sector is a key leading indicator of the U.S. business cycle. The paper deals with robust estimation of the cyclical component for the seasonally adjusted time series. This is achieved by an unobserved components model featuring an irregular component that is represented by a Gaussian mixture with two components. The mixture aims at capturing the kurtosis which characterizes the data. After presenting a Gibbs sampling scheme, we illustrate that the Gaussian mixture model provides a satisfactory representation of the data, allowing for the robust estimation of the cyclical component of per capita hours worked. Another important piece of evidence is that the outlying observations are not scattered randomly throughout the sample, but have a distinctive seasonal pattern. Therefore, seasonal adjustment plays a role. We ¯nally show that, if a °exible seasonal model is adopted for the unadjusted series, the level of outlier contamination is drastically reduced.
    Keywords: Gaussian Mixtures; Robust signal extraction; State Space Models; Bayesian model selection; Seasonality
    JEL: E32 C52 C22 C11
    Date: 2008–05
  10. By: Pierre-André Chiappori; Monica Paiella (-)
    Abstract: Most classical tests of constant relative risk aversion (CRRA) based on individual portfolio composition use cross sectional data. Such tests must assume that the distributions of wealth and preferences are independent. We use panel data to analyze how individuals’ portfolio allocation between risky and riskless assets varies in response to changes in total financial wealth. We find the elasticity of the risky asset share to wealth to be small and statistically insignificant, supporting the CRRA assumption; this finding is robust when the sample is restricted to households experiencing ‘large’ income variations. Various extensions are discussed.
    Keywords: -
    Date: 2008–05–08
  11. By: Nir Jaimovich; Henry E. Siu
    Abstract: We investigate the consequences of demographic change for business cycle analysis. We find that changes in the age composition of the labor force account for a significant fraction of the variation in business cycle volatility observed in the U.S. and other G7 economies. During the postwar period, these countries experienced dramatic demographic change, although details regarding timing and nature differ from place to place. Using panel-data methods, we exploit this variation to show that the age composition of the workforce has a large and statistically significant effect on cyclical volatility. We conclude by relating these findings to the recent decline in U.S. business cycle volatility. Through simple quantitative accounting exercises, we find that demographic change accounts for approximately one-fifth to one-third of this moderation.
    JEL: E0 E3
    Date: 2008–06
  12. By: Jonathan Heathcote; Kjetil Storesletten; Giovanni L. Violante
    Abstract: In recent decades, the US wage structure has been transformed by a rising college premium, a narrowing gender gap, and increasing persistent and transitory residual wage dispersion. This paper explores the implications of these changes for cross-sectional inequality in hours worked, earnings and consumption, and for welfare. The framework for the analysis is an incomplete-markets overlapping-generations model in which individuals choose education and form households, and households choose consumption and intra-family time allocation. An explicit production technology underlies equilibrium prices for labor inputs differentiated by gender and education. The model is parameterized using micro data from the PSID, the CPS and the CEX. With the changing wage structure as the only primitive force, the model can account for the key trends in cross-sectional US data. We also assess the role played by education, labor supply, and saving in providing insurance against shocks, and in exploiting opportunities presented by changes in the relative prices of different types of labor.
    JEL: E21 I21 I31 J2 J31
    Date: 2008–06
  13. By: Jennifer Huang; Jiang Wang
    Abstract: This paper presents an equilibrium model for the demand and supply of liquidity and its impact on asset prices and welfare. We show that when constant market presence is costly, purely idiosyncratic shocks lead to endogenous demand of liquidity and large price deviations from fundamentals. Moreover, market forces fail to lead to efficient supply of liquidity, which calls for potential policy interventions. However, we demonstrate that different policy tools can yield different efficiency consequences. For example, lowering the cost of supplying liquidity on the spot (e.g., through direct injection of liquidity or relaxation of ex post margin constraints) can decrease welfare while forcing more liquidity supply (e.g., through coordination of market participants) can improve welfare.
    JEL: E44 E58 G12 G18
    Date: 2008–06
  14. By: Méjean, A.; Hope, C.
    Abstract: High crude oil prices, uncertainties about the consequences of climate change and the eventual decline of conventional oil production raise the issue of alternative fuels, such as non-conventional oil and biofuels. This paper describes a simple probabilistic model of the costs of non-conventional oil, including the role of learning-by-doing in driving down costs. This forward-looking analysis quantifies the effects of both learning and production constraints on the costs of supplying alternative fuels. The results show large uncertainties in the future costs of supplying synthetic crude oil from bitumen deposits, with a 90% confidence interval of $7 to $11 in 2025, and $6 to $13 in 2050. The influence of each parameter on the supply costs is examined, with the minimum supply cost, the learning rate, and the depletion curve exponent having the largest influence. Over time, the influence of the learning rate on the supply costs decreases, while the influence of the depletion curve exponent increases.
    Keywords: Climate change; Non-conventional oil; Exhaustible resources; Technological change; Uncertainty
    JEL: C15 Q55 Q42 Q32
    Date: 2008–02
  15. By: Benoît Mahy (Université de Mons-Hainaut et chercheur associé au DULBEA); François Rycx (DULBEA, Université libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, and IZA, Bonn); Mélanie Volral (Université de Mons-Hainaut)
    Abstract: This paper examines the impact of wage dispersion on firm performance, measured by value-added per worker, in large Belgian firms. Using matched employer-employee data for 2003, we find the existence of a positive and hump-shaped relationship between (conditional) wage dispersion and firm performance, even when controlling for worker and firm characteristics and addressing potential simultaneity problems. The comparison between estimated turning points and descriptive statistics of our sample suggest that increasing wage dispersion might increase value-added per worker in Belgium, particularly among white-collar workers. This might be due to both greater monitoring costs and production-effort elasticity considerations.
    Keywords: Wage dispersion, Personnel economics, Matched employer-employee data,Belgium.
    JEL: J31 J32 M5
    Date: 2008–05
  16. By: René Tissen, Tissen; Lekanne Deprez, Frank (Nyenrode Business Universiteit)
    Abstract: Research in the field of management and organizational theory generally indicates the absense of space in organizations. Space has largely been a neglected phenomenon, left implicite to practice as something ‘limiting’ without actually ‘existing’. The aim of this research paper is to explore and develop the meaning and concept of space in organizational design theory. By making ‘the case for space’ we postulate the emergence of a spatial theory of organizations, which markedly breaks with the resource-based (‘placebound’) view on organizations, common in organizational theory and practice. In this first paper we investigate the metaphor of space, specifically with a view to its potential value for contemporary practice. Furthermore, we discuss ‘space and time’ in a managerial framework and develop an organizational spatial design perspective allowing managers to overcome existing constraints and boundaries, in order for their organizations to better succeed in a complex, volatile and turbulent world without being restricted by traditional limitations, which often require continuous adjusting and/or adapting through restructuring and change. In a further working paper - planned for mid 2008 - we intend to extend the notion of space in modern organizations to involve a distinct set of design criteria and parameters allowing space to be operationalized in organizational practice
    Keywords: Space, Spatial Theory of Organization, Spatial Arrangements, Metaphor, Organizational Design.
    Date: 2008
  17. By: Florian S. PETERS (University of Zurich and University of California at Berkeley); Alexander F. WAGNER (University of Zurich, Swiss Finance Institute and Harvard University)
    Abstract: Executive compensation has increased dramatically over the past 15 years, but so has forced CEO turnover. We argue that part of the development of CEO pay can be explained by the adverse consequences that forced turnover implies for a CEO. We ¯nd that for the CEOs of the largest US corporations, a one percentage point increase in exogenous turnover risk is associated with $40,000 to $90,000 more in terms of total compensation. The size of this risk premium is in line with estimates of the importance of career concerns and forfeiture risk. This relation survives a test of reverse causation and controlling for unobserved ¯rm heterogeneity. We argue that the robustly positive correlation between turnover and compensation is not consistent with a view of entrenched CEOs setting their own compensation and turnover risk.
    Keywords: Executive compensation, entrenchment, turnover, corporate governance
    JEL: D8 G34 M52
    Date: 2008–05
  18. By: Pierre-Guillaume Méon (Centre Emile Bernheim, Solvay Business School, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels and DULBEA, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels.); Ariane Szafarz (Centre Emile Bernheim, Solvay Business School, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels and DULBEA, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels.)
    Abstract: This paper studies labour market discriminations as an agency problem. It sets up a principal-agent model of a firm, where the manager is a taste discriminator and has to make unobservable hiring decisions that determine the shareholder’s profits because workers differ in skills. The paper shows that performance-based contracts may moderate the manager’s propensity to discriminate, but that it is unlikely to fully eliminate discrimination.
    Keywords: discrimination, agency theory, hiring.
    JEL: J71 D21 M12 M51
    Date: 2008–06
  19. By: Marinucci, Marco
    Abstract: This paper faces two questions concerning Joint Ventures (JV) agreements. First, we study how the partners contribution affect the creation and the profit sharing of a JV when partners' effort is not observable. Then, we see whether such agreements are easier to enforce when the decision on JV profit sharing among partners is either delegated to the independent JV management (Management Sharing) or jointly taken by partners (Coordinated Sharing). We find that the firm whose effort has a higher impact on the JV's profits should have a larger profit shares. Moreover, a Management sharing ensures, at least in some cases, a wider range of self-enforceable JV agreements.
    Keywords: joint ventures; strategic alliances; ownership structure; asymmetries.
    JEL: L14 L13 D43 L22
    Date: 2008–04
  20. By: Schauten, M.B.J.; Dijk, D.J.C. van; Waal, J-P. van der (Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), RSM Erasmus University)
    Abstract: We examine the relation between the quality of corporate governance and the value of excess cash for large European firms (FTSEurofirst 300 Index). We use Deminor ratings for Shareholder rights, Takeover defences, Disclosure and Board as proxies for the quality of corporate governance. We find that the value of excess cash is positively related to the Takeover defences score only. It seems that governance mechanisms—except the market for corporate control—are not strong enough to prevent managers from wasting excess cash. For non-UK firms we find that the value of €1 of excess cash in a poorly governed firm is valued at only €0.89 while the value is €1.45 for a good governed firm. We show that poorly governed firms dissipate excess cash relatively quickly with a negative impact on their operating performance as a result.
    Keywords: corporate governance;excess cash;take-over defences
    Date: 2008–05–20
  21. By: Wolf, C.; Pollitt, M.G.
    Abstract: This study empirically investigates the impact of privatisation on firm performance in the global oil and gas industry, where questions of resource control have regained widespread attention. Using a dataset of 60 public share offerings by 28 National Oil Companies it is shown that privatisation is associated with comprehensive and sustained improvements in performance and efficiency. Over the seven-year period around the initial privatisation offering, return on sales increases by 3.6 percentage points, total output by 40%, capital expenditure by 47%, and employment intensity drops by 35%. Many of our observed performance improvements are already realised in anticipation of the initial privatisation date, accrue over time, and level off after the initial ownership change rather than accelerate. Details of residual government ownership, control transfer, and size and timing of follow-on offerings provide limited incremental explanatory power for firm performance, except for employment intensity. Based on these results partial privatisations in the oil sector might be seen to capture a significant part of the performance improvement associated with private capital markets without the selling government having to cede majority control.
    Keywords: Privatisation, ownership, corporate performance, anticipation, oil and gas industry
    JEL: C23 G32 L33 L71 M20 Q40
    Date: 2008–02
  22. By: Chul Chung; Jeremy Clark (University of Canterbury); Bonggeun Kim
    Abstract: This paper documents that virtually all of the growth in the skilled wage premium over the 1980’s in the United States was confined to metropolitan areas. Explanations for the growth in the skilled wage premium will therefore need to take location into account.
    Keywords: Skilled wage premium; Metropolitan areas
    JEL: J31 R23 F16
    Date: 2008–01–05
  23. By: Donggyun Shin; Gary Solon
    Abstract: Using Panel Study of Income Dynamics data for 1969 through 2004, we examine movements in men's earnings volatility. Like many previous studies, we find that earnings volatility is substantially countercyclical. As for secular trends, we find that men's earnings volatility increased during the 1970s, but did not show a clear trend afterwards until a new upward trend appeared in the last few years. These patterns are broadly consistent with the findings of recent studies based on other data sets.
    JEL: D31 J31
    Date: 2008–06
  24. By: Roy Thurik; Ingrid Verheul; Isabel Grilo
    Abstract: This paper investigates why self-employment rates of women are consistently lower than those of men. It has three focal points: it discriminates between the preference for self-employment and actual involvement in self-employment for women and men. It uses a huge data set from about 8,000 individuals across 26 countries while probit equations are estimated explaining (the preference for) self-employment. And a systematic distinction is made between different ways in which gender can influence the preference for and actual involvement in self-employment, including moderation, mediation and direct effects. Using the Theory of Planned Behaviour we investigate effects of risk attitude,social norms, locus of control, perceptions of the entrepreneurial environment as well as that of an individual’s age and educational attainment. Findings show that the lower preference of women to become self-employed largely explains their relatively low involvement in self-employment and that – other things equal – women and men who express a preference for it, have equal chances of becoming self-employed. This paper is a new version of H200622, "Determinants of self-employment preference and realization of women and men in Europe and the United States"
    Date: 2008–06–04
  25. By: Georgios Marios Chrysanthou
    Abstract: Using a dynamic model of unionism and wage determination we find that the unobserved factors that influence union membership also affect wages. The estimates suggest that UK trade unions still play a non-negligible, albeit diminishing, role in wage formation. It appears that the greater impact of unobservables in determining individual union propensity concerning the second period under analysis, versus past unionisation experience, implies that those remaining in unions during (1997-2002) gain most from their sorting decision. The significant contribution of unobserved heterogeneity renders the total union wage differential highly variable across individuals. The endogeneity correction procedure employed yields a discernible pattern of the estimated union wage effect relative to OLS and Fixed effects. This is in line with Robinson (1989a) and Vella and Verbeek (1998) and refutes the pessimistic conclusions reached by Freeman and Medoff (1982) and Lewis (1986) that endogeneity correction methodologies do not contribute to our understanding of the union wage effect puzzle.
    Keywords: union status, union wage effects, unobserved heterogeneity, dynamic model of unionism and wage determination
    JEL: C33 J31 J51
    Date: 2008–05

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