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837. Is the productivity premium of internationalized firms technology-driven?

Working Paper n.837 - Agosto 2020

Michele Battisti

University of Palermo and RCEA

Filippo Belloc

DEPS, USiena

Massimo Del Gatto

“G.d'Annunzio" University, LUISS Guido Carli and CRENoS


We ask whether the productivity advantage of internationalized firms documented by the international trade literature can be interpreted most accurately in terms of proximity to the “technological frontier". We answer in the affermative using a methodology (based on mixture models) of unbundling technology and total factor productivity (TFP) by estimating “technology-specic" production function parameters. Exploiting detailed data provided by the EFIGE database (a sample of firms distributed across Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom), we nd technology gaps (with respect to the frontier) more than three times larger than the TFP gaps on average. We also nd sizable technology advantages for firms undertaking foreign direct investment and/or exporting to other European Union countries or to China, for importers of materials, and for firms with competitors in China and the United States. Medium and large firms feature a higher technology premium, which is even higher for firms operating in country-sectors that are more exposed to import competition from China. Younger firms use better technologies but less effectively.
heterogenous firm, productivity premium, selection effect, technology, TFP, trade model
Jel codes
F12, F14, D24, 033