Research Seminar

Uneven firm growth in a globalized world — Xiaomei Sui

17 Feb 2023

Kiel Institut für Weltwirtschaft


Xiaomei Sui (University of Rochester):


I study how globalization contributes to uneven firm growth and its implications for industrial concentration and productivity growth in OECD countries. I document new facts showing that industry leaders grow faster in sales and patenting than followers, particularly in industries with increasing export intensities; sales divergence is mainly driven by exports rather than domestic sales. To rationalize these facts, I develop a two-country endogenous growth model with strategic domestic and international competition and an ‘innovation disadvantage of backwardness’ that captures how firms innovate less when left behind. Globalization, modelled as decreasing trade iceberg costs and increasing international knowledge spillovers, triggers a stronger innovation response among leaders than followers via the market size effect, inducing an increase in domestic concentration that depresses firm innovation via weaker domestic competition: followers and leaders reduce innovation due to the innovation disadvantage of backwardness and decreasing returns to innovation, respectively. The globalization-induced harsher foreign competition also reduces innovation via lower profits. In the calibrated model, globalization explains 80% of the rise in industrial concentration and 50% of the productivity growth slowdown in the data, mainly due to weaker domestic competition. The increasing international knowledge spillover force of globalization dominates.


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