Learning by Export: Does the presence of foreign affiliate companies matter?

Author Name HOSONO Kaoru  (Gakushuin University) /MIYAKAWA Daisuke  (Hitotsubashi University) /TAKIZAWA Miho  (Toyo University)
Creation Date/NO. April 2015 15-E-053
Research Project Competitiveness of Japanese Firms: Causes and Effects of the Productivity Dynamics
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This paper investigates the effect of export activities on firm performance by taking into account whether or not exporter firms' affiliated companies (i.e., their own subsidiaries and parent companies' branches) are located in the export markets. To single out a causal impact on firm performance running from starting export, we employ propensity-score matching difference-in-differences estimation. Using a unique firm-level panel dataset that allows us to identify firms starting export and firms staying in domestic markets as well as their affiliated firms' overseas activities, we find that firms exhibited better performance than their non-exporter counterparts prior to export, and that the difference in the performance, especially productivity, significantly widened after export. Such improvement in productivity originated from starting export was found to be statistically and economically significant when exporter firms did not have affiliated firms in overseas markets. On the other hand, the performance gain from export was highly heterogeneous and hence statistically insignificant in the case when these affiliated firms were present in overseas market. The former type of firm fits well to test the learning-by-exporting mechanism hypothesis since it accessed the export markets for the first time by exporting.