Import Competition, Heterogeneous Preferences of Managers, and Productivity

Cheng Chen, Claudia Steinwender

Bibliographic Information

NBER Working Paper No. 25539
Issued in February 2019
NBER Program(s):ITI, PR

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Empirical evidence on the relationship between import competition and firm productivity is mixed. We explore a new dimension of firm heterogeneity by focusing on different types of managers. Using Spanish firm-level data, we show that import competition leads to productivity increases for family-managed firms that are initially unproductive. Productivity changes are driven by family management as opposed to family ownership or non-managing family members. This evidence is consistent with a model in which family managers care more about the survival of their firm than professional managers, which triggers additional effort when the firm is faced with an increased bankruptcy risk. We show evidence consistent with this mechanism.

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