Multi-Product Plants and Product Switching in Japan

Author Name Andrew B. BERNARD  (Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth) /OKUBO Toshihiro  (Keio University)
Creation Date/NO. August 2013 13-E-069
Research Project Studies on the Structure of Japanese Economic Space and Japanese Supply Chains Sustaining Growth Under Globalization and Disaster Risks
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This paper explores the role of multi-product plants and product switching in the Japanese manufacturing sector. While a substantial body of work has explored the importance of the extensive margins of plant entry and exit in employment and output flows, only recently has research begun to examine the adjustment across products within establishments and its importance for plant and aggregate output and employment flows. Using a novel, annual plant-product dataset covering all Japanese manufacturing plants with more than four employees from 1992 to 2006, we provide the first evidence on the role of multi-product plants in the Japanese manufacturing sector and how the product mix and the plant mix have changed over time. Unlike previous studies, we are able to track annual changes in the product mix. The period covers a major decline in manufacturing activity, and we show that the mix of products and output shifted strongly toward larger multi-product plants that are part of multi-establishment manufacturing firms.