nep-bec New Economics Papers
on Business Economics
Issue of 2008‒11‒11
23 papers chosen by
Christian Calmes
Universite du Quebec en Outaouais

  1. Organizational Redesign, Information Technologies and Workplace Productivity By Benoit Dostie; Rajshri Jayaraman
  2. Wage-Hours Contracts, Overtime Working and Premium Pay By Hart, Robert A.; Ma, Yue
  3. Optimal ownership in joint ventures with contributions of asymmetric partners By MARINUCCI, Marco
  4. Aligning Ambition and Incentives By Alexander K. Koch; Eloïc Peyrache
  5. Pay me Right: Reference Values and Executive Compensation By Aleksandra Gregoric; Sašo Polanec; Sergeja Slapnicar
  6. Incomplete information, idiosyncratic volatility and stock returns By Tony BERRADA; Julien HUGONNIER
  7. Liquidity and productivity shocks: A look at sectoral firm creation By Lenno Uusküla
  8. Collusive networks in market sharing agreements in the presence of an antitrust authority By Flavia Roldán
  9. Income Dispersion and Counter-Cyclical Markups By Chris Edmond; Laura Veldkamp
  10. Financial Constraints and the Cash-Holding Behaviour of Canadian Firms By Darcey McVanel; Nikita Perevalov
  11. Wage Formation between Newly Hired Workers and Employers: Survey Evidence By Hall, Robert; Krueger, Alan B.
  12. Technology Commercialization Strategy in a Dynamic Context: Complementary Assets, Hybrid Contracts, and Experiential Learning By Simon Wakeman
  13. Process-based Organization Design Model: Theoretical Review and Model Conceptualization By Tomislav Hernaus
  14. Tacit versus Overt Collusion Firm Asymmetries and Numbers: What’s the Evidence? By Stephen Davies; Matthew Olczak
  15. To acquire or to compete ? An entry dilemna By Jean J. GABSZEWICZ; Didier, LAUSSEL; Ornella, TAROLLA
  16. Analysis of Pay Inequality and its Impacts on Growth and Performance in the Korean Manufacturing Industry By Kim, Yunhee; Lee, Jeong-Dong; Heshmati, Almas
  17. Assessing the Role of Technology Adoption in China's Growth Performance. By Nadja Wirz
  18. Europeanization or Globalization? Transnational Wage Bargaining and the Distribution of Activity in European Labor Markets By Maria Demertzis; Andrew Hughes Hallett; Nicolien Schermer
  19. If you are so smart, why aren't you an entrepreneur? Returns to cognitive and social ability: Entrepreneurs versus employees By Joop Hartog; Mirjam van Praag; Justin van der Sluis
  20. Chocs de demande et fluctuations du taux de marge : une évaluation du modèle de collusion implicite By Frédéric DUFOURT
  21. Efficiency gains and mergers By DE FEO, Giuseppe
  22. How Do Firing Costs Affect Innovation and Growth when Workers' Ability is Unknown? – Employment Protection as a Burden on a Firm's Screening Process By Berdugo, Binyamin; Hadad, Sharon
  23. Successive oligopolies and decreasing returns By GABSZEWICZ, Jean J.; ZANAJ, Skerdilajda

  1. By: Benoit Dostie (HEC Montreal); Rajshri Jayaraman (ESMT European School of Management and Technology)
    Abstract: Using a large longitudinal, nationally representative workplace-level dataset, we explore the productivity gains associated with computer use and organizational redesign. The empirical strategy involves the estimation of a production function, augmented to account for technology use and organizational design, correcting for unobserved heterogeneity. We find large returns associated with computer use. We also find that computer use and organizational redesign may be complements or substitutes in production, and that the productivity gains associated with organizational redesign are industry-specific.
    Keywords: organizational capital, IT, computers, workplace productivity, matched employer-employee data
    JEL: D20 L20 M54 O33
    Date: 2008–10–06
  2. By: Hart, Robert A. (University of Stirling); Ma, Yue (Lingnan University)
    Abstract: This paper offers a contract-based theory to explain the determination of standard hours, overtime hours and overtime premium pay. We expand on the wage contract literature that emphasises the role of firm-specific human capital and that explores problems of contract efficiency in the face of information asymmetries between the firm and the worker. We first explore a simple wage-hours contract without overtime and show that incorporating hours into the contract may itself produce efficiency gains. We then show how the introduction of overtime hours, remunerated at premium rates, can further improve contract efficiency. Our modelling outcomes in respect of the relationship between the overtime premium and the standard wage rate relate closely to earlier developments in hedonic wage theory. Throughout, we emphasise the intuitive reasoning behind the theory and we also supply relevant empirical evidence. Mathematical derivations are provided in an appendix.
    Keywords: wage-hours contracts, overtime, premium pay, specific human capital, asymmetric information
    JEL: J41 J33
    Date: 2008–10
  3. By: MARINUCCI, Marco (Université catholique de Louvain (UCL). Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE))
    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: D43 L13 L14 L22
    Date: 2008–03
  4. By: Alexander K. Koch; Eloïc Peyrache (School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus, Denmark)
    Abstract: Labor turnover creates longer term career concerns incentives that motivate employees in addition to the short term monetary incentives provided by the current employer. We analyze how these incentives interact and derive implications for the design of incentive contracts and organizational choice. The main insights stem from a trade-off between ‘good monetary incentives’ and ‘good reputational incentives’. We show that the principal optimally designs contracts to create ambiguity about agents’ abilities. This may make it optimal to contract on relative performance measures, even though the extant rationales for such schemes are absent. Linking the structure of contracts to organizational design, we show that it can be optimal for the principal to adopt an opaque organization where performance is not verifiable, despite the constraints that this imposes on contracts.
    Keywords: Reputation, Asymmetric learning, Relative performance contracts, Transparency
    JEL: D82 J33 L14
    Date: 2008–11–05
  5. By: Aleksandra Gregoric; Sašo Polanec; Sergeja Slapnicar
    Keywords: executive compensation, bargaining, reference values, ownership structure
    JEL: G30 G34
    Date: 2008
  6. By: Tony BERRADA (University of Geneva and Swiss Finance Institute); Julien HUGONNIER (University of Lausanne and Swiss Finance Institute)
    Abstract: We develop a q-theoretic model of investment under incomplete information that explains the link between idiosyncratic volatility and stock returns. When calibrated to match properties of the US business cycles as well as various firms and industry characteristics, the model generates a negative relation between idiosyncratic volatility and stock returns. We show that conditional on earning surprises, the link is positive after good news and negative after bad news. This result provides new insights on the nature of stock return predictability.
    Keywords: Idiosyncratic volatility, incomplete information, cross-section of returns, q-theory of investment
    JEL: G12 D83 D92
    Date: 2008–07
  7. By: Lenno Uusküla
    Abstract: Only a few papers consider the sectoral effects of aggregate shocks. But do the shocks have homogeneous effects across sectors? This paper looks at the impact of liquidity and neutral productivity shocks on the creation of firms across 8 sectors in Estonia. I show that the sectoral heterogeneity in the reaction is low for liquidity shocks and high for technology shocks. An increase in liquidity leads to a uniform growth in the creation of firms across sectors with the exception of the financial sector. An increase in the labor productivity shock the entry of firms permanently in sectors that are traditionally considered to be producing tradables, such as transport or manufacturing. The increase in the creation of firms is short and close to zero in the long run in the nontradable sectors, such as retail and whole sale, real estate, and hotels and restaurants.
    Keywords: VAR, liquidity shocks, technology shocks, firm entry
    JEL: E32 C32
    Date: 2008–10–30
  8. By: Flavia Roldán
    Abstract: This paper studies how the presence of an antitrust authority affects market-sharing agreements made by firms in oligopolistic markets. These agreements prevent firms from entering each other´s market. The set of market-sharing agreements defines a collusive network, which is under suspicion by antitrust authorities. This paper shows that, from the firm´s point of view, the probability of being caught is endogenous and depends on the agreements each firm has signed. Stable collusive networks can be decomposed into a set of isolated firms and complete alliances of different sizes. While in the absence of the antitrust authority, a network is stable if its alliances are large enough, when the antitrust authority is considered, the network is stability depends on the network configuration as a whole. Antitrust laws may have a pro-competitive effect as they give Firms in large alliances more incentives to cut their agreements at once.
    Keywords: Market-sharing, Economic networks, Antitrust authority, Oligopoly
    JEL: D43 K21 L41
    Date: 2008–09
  9. By: Chris Edmond; Laura Veldkamp
    Abstract: Recent advances in measuring cyclical changes in the income distribution raise new questions: How might these distributional changes affect the business cycle itself? We show how counter-cyclical income dispersion can generate counter-cyclical markups in the goods market, without any preference shocks or price-setting frictions. In recessions, heterogeneous labor productivity shocks raise income dispersion, lower the price elasticity of demand, and increase imperfectly competitive firms' optimal markups. The calibrated model explains not only many cyclical features of markups, but also cyclical, long-run and cross-state patterns of standard business cycle aggregates.
    JEL: E32
    Date: 2008–10
  10. By: Darcey McVanel; Nikita Perevalov
    Abstract: The proportion of assets held by the average Canadian firm in the form of cash has increased steadily since the early 1990s, and is now roughly twice as large as in 1990. The literature has established that the cash-holding behaviour of firms is highly correlated with financial constraints and firm characteristics. The authors use a firm-level data set covering Canadian firms from 1980 to 2006 to understand which firm characteristics are associated with higher cash holdings. They find that financial constraints are likely important for explaining firms' higher cash holdings, and that the recent increase in the cash holdings of Canadian firms can be almost entirely explained by changes in firm characteristics. Specifically, higher recent cash holdings are correlated with the average Canadian firm having become smaller, having more variable cash flow, holding lower levels of cash substitutes, having higher expenditure on research and development, and being more likely to be financially distressed. The authors also find that the average Canadian firm has a cash ratio that is only slightly higher than would be predicted by out-of-sample forecasts over the 1990s and 2000s, though the divergence between the actual and predicted values has been increasing in recent years.
    Keywords: Sectoral balance sheet
    JEL: G11 G32
    Date: 2008
  11. By: Hall, Robert (Stanford University); Krueger, Alan B. (Princeton University)
    Abstract: Some workers bargain with prospective employers before accepting a job. Others could bargain, but find it undesirable, because their right to bargain has induced a sufficiently favorable offer, which they accept. Yet others perceive that they cannot bargain over pay; they regard the posted wage as a take-it-or-leave-it opportunity. Theories of wage formation point to substantial differences in labor-market equilibrium between bargained and posted wages. The fraction of workers hired away from existing jobs is another key determinant of equilibrium, because a worker with an existing job has a better outside option in bargaining than does an unemployed worker. Our survey measures the incidences of wage posting, bargaining, and on-the-job search. We find that about a third of workers had precise information about pay when they first met with their employers, a sign of wage posting. We find that another third bargained over pay before accepting their current jobs. And about 40 percent of workers could have remained on their earlier jobs at the time they accepted their current jobs.
    Keywords: jobs, wages, bargaining, equilibrium
    JEL: E24 J3 J64
    Date: 2008–10
  12. By: Simon Wakeman (ESMT European School of Management and Technology)
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the strategic choices of a technology firm seeking to profit from innovation when the established product firms are better positioned to commercialize that innovation. While the predominant framework frames this as a choice between contracting and integration, this paper shows that in a context where the technology firm innovates repeatedly and has the opportunity to learn from its experience in the commercialization process, it may be optimal for the technology firm to pursue a hybrid between these two: contracting with a firm that possesses the complementary assets but retaining rights to participate in the commercialization process. The analysis is motivated by the experience of biotech firms, which in recent years have increasingly sought to retain the rights to participate in the marketing and sales stages of alliances with pharmaceutical firms (known as “co-promotion”). The paper develops a game-theoretic model of a technology firm choosing its strategy in this context, and uses the model to derive the conditions under which the firms will agree to a co-promotion (rather than a pure licensing) arrangement. It uses the model to explain the pattern of arrangements observed in biotech alliances, using a dataset of 565 alliances signed between U.S. biotech and pharmaceutical firms from 1992-2006. The results show that a firm is significantly more likely to enter a co-promotion arrangement when its technological expertise is focused on the product field of the alliance and when it is in a stronger financial position.
    Date: 2008–10–24
  13. By: Tomislav Hernaus (Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb)
    Abstract: The complexity of today's business world is translated into complexity of the company's organization design (Galbraith, 2002). Organizations are forced to quickly adapt to emerging complexity if they want to survive. The change is addressing all areas of business, especially questioning organizational effectiveness and trying to find optimal solutions for doing business. In accordance with requirements, competitive trends are pushing executives to rethink traditional design configurations. Factors such as increased competition in cost, quality and service, and technical change have forced companies not only to seek out new ways of doing old tasks, but also new ways of organizing either old or new tasks (Cross, 1990). Such focus on the flow of work within organizations, but as well as between them, is emphasizing process orientation as a new management paradigm. Inefficiencies of the two most commonly present structures – functional and divisional, in addition to emerging business trends, place the emphasis on a process-based organization as one of the possible solutions. The process-based organization is lead by the process paradigm, which is focused on the horizontal view of business activities and alignment of organizational systems towards business processes. Regardless of a large interest on business processes, existing organization design theory offers only general guidelines for process-based organizations or more precisely, a process-based organization design model. Consequently, the purpose of the paper is to demystify process-based organization design model. By clearly distinguishing between different levels of process orientation, and by addressing characteristics of the chosen model the paper will lead to better understanding of this way of organizing. Eventually, an operationalized model of process-based organization is developed. Furthermore, the paper elaborates on differences between process-based and other organizational structures and philosophies (e.g. functional, product, matrix, project, team-based). Besides structural elements, which will be in the primary focus, the paper will discuss the alignment of all other important organization design elements for process environment (e.g., management style, reward systems, performance metrics, people practices, organizational culture, etc.). There would be proposed necessary adjustments of organizational elements which should be aligned with the process-based structural solution. In such way, some of the blind spots of process-based organization design model would be revealed, providing practical implications for its implementation and ultimately, offering solution for rising business complexity.
    Keywords: organization design, process-based organization, process-based organization design model, business processes
    JEL: L22 M10
    Date: 2008–10–28
  14. By: Stephen Davies (Centre for Competition Policy, University of East Anglia); Matthew Olczak (Centre for Competition Policy, University of East Anglia)
    Abstract: It is conventional wisdom that collusion is more likely the fewer firms there are in a market and the more symmetric they are. This is often theoretically justified in terms of a repeated non-cooperative game. Although that model fits more easily with tacit than overt collusion, the impression sometimes given is that ‘one model fits all’. Moreover, the empirical literature offers few stylised facts on the most simple of questions – how few are few and how symmetric is symmetric? This paper attempts to fill this gap while also exploring the interface of tacit and overt collusion, albeit in an indirect way. First, it identifies the empirical model of tacit collusion that the European Commission appears to have employed in coordinated effects merger cases – apparently only fairly symmetric duopolies fit the bill. Second, it shows that, intriguingly, the same story emerges from the quite different experimental literature on tacit collusion. This offers a stark contrast with the findings for a sample of prosecuted cartels; on average, these involve six members (often more) and size asymmetries among members are often considerable. The indirect nature of this ‘evidence’ cautions against definitive conclusions; nevertheless, the contrast offers little comfort for those who believe that the same model does, more or less, fit all.
    Keywords: tacit collusion, collective dominance, coordinated effects, cartels, European mergers, asymmetries, firm numbers
    JEL: L13 L41
    Date: 2008–10
  15. By: Jean J. GABSZEWICZ (UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN, Department of Economics); Didier, LAUSSEL; Ornella, TAROLLA
    Abstract: In this paper we address the following question : is it more profitable, for an entrant in a differentiated market, to acquire an existing firm than to compete ? We illustrate the answer by considering competition in the banking sector
    Keywords: vertical differentiation; entry; banking competition
    JEL: G34 L13 L22
    Date: 2008–06–18
  16. By: Kim, Yunhee (Seoul National University); Lee, Jeong-Dong (Seoul National University); Heshmati, Almas (Seoul National University)
    Abstract: This paper examines the relationship between pay inequality, economic growth, and performance in Korea. Pay inequality is estimated by using Theil's index to identify the factors determining the level of pay inequality, and establish its relationship with economic growth and performance. For the empirical results we use panel data on the Korean manufacturing sector for the period 1993 to 2003. It appears that a large portion of rising pay inequality can be attributed to rising relative pay among the small-sized firms, outside the capital city area and in the ICT sectors which were affected by the economic structural reform since 1997. The findings support the hypothesis of an "augmented" Kuznets Curve, according to which certain developed countries are found on an upward-sloping addendum to the original formulation of Kuznets.
    Keywords: pay inequality, financial crisis, Kuznets Curve, economic growth, performance
    JEL: C43 J31 J38 O4
    Date: 2008–10
  17. By: Nadja Wirz (University of St. Gallen, Switzerland)
    Abstract: China has experienced a period of tremendous economic growth in recent years. In an attempt to explain this development, several existing growth-accounting studies reveal that impressively high rates of productivity growth have been at the heart of China's performance. This study investigates to what extent these productivity increases can be explained by technology-adoption theory. In less developed countries, the key element behind technological progress is technology adoption, the process of copying technological knowledge invented throughout the world. To uncover a measure of China's technological advances, the paper constructs a hybrid of some prominent technology-adoption models and calibrates it to reasonable parameter values. The calibrated version of the model is then combined with Chinese economic data. For the period 1978-2005, the analysis finds that the Chinese performance can be explained to a surprisingly large extent by the suggested technology-adoption framework. It can account for roughly 80% of China's productivity gains.
    Keywords: technological progress; technology adoption; TFP; China
    JEL: O11 O30 O40 O52
    Date: 2008–10
  18. By: Maria Demertzis; Andrew Hughes Hallett; Nicolien Schermer
    Abstract: This paper investigates the impact of increasing globalization on labor markets, in terms of wage inflation and the distribution of activity across regions. Specifically, we study the effects of aggregation in the labor markets on the distribution of employment and inflationary pressures, where there are differences in market structures and transmission mechanisms underpinned by relatively immobile labor. To demonstrate these ideas, we take the European experience as a “laboratory” to show what can be expected from globalization in the labor markets in practice. Using models of wage leadership vs. locational competition, we examine the extent and strength of aggregation effects on labor market costs using a sample of data from 1983 to 2007 which covers the period of the creation of the Euro. We find that the aggregation effect has decreased significantly since the start of EMU, thereby improving the tradeoff between inflation and unemployment. At the same time, while Germany played an important role in the run-up to EMU in terms of wage leader, its role has now decreased and been replaced by globalization forces. This has led to increased locational competition in terms of wage formation. We demonstrate this with the emerging role of the US as the benchmark for wage setting in Europe.
    Keywords: Phillips Curves; aggregation; locational competition; wage leadership.
    JEL: F15 F42 J60
    Date: 2008–11
  19. By: Joop Hartog (University of Amsterdam, Tinbergen Institute, IZA); Mirjam van Praag (Amsterdam Center for Entrepreneurship, University of Amsterdam, Tinbergen Institute, IZA, Max Planck Institute of Economics); Justin van der Sluis (University of Amsterdam)
    Abstract: How valuable are cognitive and social abilities for entrepreneurs' incomes as compared to employees? We answer three questions: (1) To what extent does a composite measure of ability affect an entrepreneur's earnings relative to employees? (2) Do different cognitive abilities (e.g. math ability, language ability) and social ability affect earnings of entrepreneurs and employees differently?, and (3) Does the balance in these measured ability levels affect an individual's earnings? Our individual fixed-effects estimates of the differential returns to ability for spells in entrepreneurship versus wage employment account for selectivity into entrepreneurial positions as determined by fixed individual characteristics. General ability has a stronger impact on entrepreneurial incomes than on wages. Entrepreneurs and employees benefit from different sets of specific abilities: Language and clerical abilities have a stronger impact on wages, whereas mathematical, social and technical ability affect entrepreneurial incomes more strongly. The balance in the various kinds of ability also generates a higher income, but only for entrepreneurs: This finding supports Lazear's Jack-of-all- Trades theory.
    Keywords: (Non-)Cognitive abilities, intelligence, earnings, entrepreneur(ship), wage employment, income differentials
    JEL: J23 J24 J31 J44 M13
    Date: 2008–11–04
  20. By: Frédéric DUFOURT (EUREQUA, Université de Paris 1)
    Abstract: Cet article propose une évaluation quantitative du modèle de collusion implicite de Rotemberg et Woodford (1992), en s'appuyant sur une version totalement spécifiée qui permet notamment une détermination analytique de l'élasticité du taux de marge face aux variations de la demande agrégée. Dans ce cadre, on montre qu'un tel mécanisme ne parvient pas à générer des effets réels suffisants pour reproduire un certain nombre de faits stylisés importants associés aux chocs de demande, tels que la réaction procyclique de la production, de l'emploi et du salaire réel. Comparé à des mécanismes concurrents de fluctuations des marges évalués dans un cadre analytique si¬milaire, le mécanisme de collusion implicite semble donc avoir des difficultés à s'imposer à lui seul comme une explication dominante de la transmission des chocs de demande à l'activité économique.
    JEL: E32
    Date: 2008–09–01
  21. By: DE FEO, Giuseppe (Université catholique de Louvain (UCL). Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE))
    Abstract: In the theoretical literature, strong arguments have been provided in support of the efficiency defense in antitrust merger policy. One of the most often cited results is due to Williamson (1968) that shows how relatively small reduction in cost could offset the deadweight loss of a large price increase. Furthermore, Salant et al. (1983) demonstrate that (not for monopoly) mergers are unprofitable absent efficiency gains. The general result, drawn in a Cournot framework by Farrell and Shapiro (1990), is that (not too large) mergers that are profitable are always welfare improving. In the present work we challenge the conclusions of this literature in two aspects. First, we show that Williamson's results underestimate the welfare loss due to a price increase and overestimate the effect of efficiency gains. Then, we prove that the conditions for welfare improving mergers defined by Farrell and Shapiro (1990) hold true only when consumers are adversely affected. This seems an argument to disregard their policy prescriptions when antitrust authorities are more "consumers-oriented". In this respect, we provide a necessary and sufficient condition for a consumer surplus improving merger: in a two firm merger, efficiency gains must be larger than the pre-merger average markup.
    Keywords: mergers, efficiency gains, Cournot oligopoly.
    JEL: D43 L11 L22
    Date: 2008–01
  22. By: Berdugo, Binyamin; Hadad, Sharon
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the implication of employment protection legislation on a firm's screening process. We present a model in which human-capital-intensive firms (high-tech) with imperfect information about their workers' type attempt during a trial period to identify those incompetent workers who they will subsequently dismiss. Employment protection measures, however, place a burden on this screening process and thereby motivate innovators to embark on medium-tech projects which are more flexible in their human capital requirements. Employment protection legislation thereby distorts the pattern of specialization in favor of medium-tech firms rather than high-tech firms and consequently slows down the process of economic growth. The results of the paper are consistent with documented data on Europe versus US productivity growth and specialization patterns as well as with employment protection legislation in those economies.
    Keywords: Screening; Firing Costs; Employment Protection; Innovation; Growth; Specialization
    JEL: J08 O43 D82 D24
    Date: 2008–08
  23. By: GABSZEWICZ, Jean J. (Université catholique de Louvain (UCL). Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE)); ZANAJ, Skerdilajda
    Abstract: In this paper, we propose an example of successive oligopolies where the downstream firms share the same decreasing returns technology of the Cobb-Douglas type. We stress the differences between the conclusions obtained under this assumption and those resulting from the traditional example considered in the literature, namely, a constant returns technology.
    Keywords: successive oligopolies, vertical integration, technology.
    JEL: D43 L1 L22 L42
    Date: 2008–08

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