Firm Heterogeneity, Origin of Ownership and Export Participation

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Abstract

This paper investigates the relationship between firm heterogeneity and a firm's decision to export, using the annual survey of Thai manufacturing firms from 2001 to 2004. A significant contribution of this paper is that we are, for the first time, able to break down FDI by country of origin to observe whether the behaviour of MNEs differs by region of origin. We find that sunk entry costs and firm characteristics are important factors in explaining a firm's decision to export. Another important determinant is the ownership structure of the firm, with foreign-owned firms having a higher probability of exporting than domestically owned firms, although this differs across country of ownership with potentially important policy implications. Export platform FDI is used to explain the behaviour of foreign firms that invest in Thailand. Using three measures of total factor productivity, we also find that highly productive firms self-select into the export market. The implication for governments of developing countries is the need to think carefully about how and to whom they target their inward FDI policies as a means of growth. The heterogeneous behaviour of multinationals from different nations means that policies targeting specific regions or countries may be preferable to general tax concessions or the implementation of special economic zones that are open to all.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-291
Number of pages28
JournalWorld Economy
Volume33
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2010