Effects of CEOs' Characteristics on Internationalization of Small and Medium Enterprises in Japan

Author Name TODO Yasuyuki (Faculty Fellow, RIETI / the University of Tokyo) / SATO Hitoshi (Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. March 2011 11-E-026
Research Project Study on International Trade and Firms
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Recent heterogeneous-firm models of international trade suggest that productivity determines whether firms engage in export and foreign direct investment. However in practice, m Abstract any productive firms are not internationalized, whereas many unproductive firms are. This situation suggests that factors other than productivity influence internationalization.

This study examines a set of potential factors -personal characteristics of the chief executive officer (CEO)- using a unique panel dataset for Japanese small and medium enterprises (SMEs). We find that SMEs are more likely to be internationalized when the CEO is more risk-tolerant, forward-looking, and internationally experienced.

These factors show significant statistical relationships with SMEs' decisions to internationalize, perhaps suggesting why productive firms might not internationalize.

In addition, we find that productivity has no significant relationship with the decision of exiting international markets probably because initial costs of internationalization become sunk, whereas SMEs with internationally experienced CEOs show strongly less likelihood of exit. These empirical results are consistent with theoretical predictions of our model that incorporates the uncertainty of foreign markets into the trade theory with firm heterogeneity.

Published: Yasuyuki Todo, Hitoshi Sato, 2014. "Effects of Presidents' Characteristics on Internationalization of Small and Medium Firms in Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Vol. 34, pp. 236-255.