Learning and Information Transmission within Multinational Corporations

Author Name CHEN Cheng (Clemson University) / SUN Chang (University of Hong Kong) / ZHANG Hongyong (Senior Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. July 2019 19-E-053
Research Project Studies on the Impact of Uncertainty and Structural Change in Overseas Markets on Japanese Firms
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First draft: July 2019
Revised: December 2021


Firms face substantial uncertainty when doing business in new markets. We propose that multinational firms use "cross-market learning" to resolve such uncertainties. We develop a model of firm-level expectations formation with noisy signals from multiple markets and derive predictions on market entries and expectations formation over the firm's life cycle. Using a novel dataset of Japanese multinational corporations that includes sales expectations of each affiliate, we provide supportive evidence for the model's predictions. We find that firms rely on their performance in nearby markets to predict their profitability in a new market and make entry decisions. Such "cross-market learning" is less important after the firm has accumulated experience in the new market, but becomes more important if the uncertainty of the focal market is high or the firm has received more signals from the nearby markets.

Published: Chen, Cheng, Chang Sun, and Hongyong Zhang, 2022. "Learning and information transmission within multinational corporations," European Economic Review, Volume 143 (2022), 104016.