, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 479-507
Date: 20 Oct 2009

Structural Reform and Firm Exports

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Abstract

  • We analyze the impact of structural reform on firm exports. We argue that structural reform generates new opportunities and reduces transaction costs, inducing firms to improve their efficiency and competitiveness to international levels, therefore, helping them to export. However, we propose that not all companies benefit equally, because firms differ in how structural reform affects their competitiveness. We argue that subsidiaries of foreign firms are the main beneficiaries of structural reform, followed by domestic private firms, and finally by domestic state-owned firms.

  • We test these arguments on a sample of the largest companies in Latin America for the period 1990–2005. We find that structural reform induces firms to export. Furthermore, it has the highest positive impact on the exports of subsidiaries of foreign firms, followed by those of domestic private firms. Surprisingly, we find that structural reform has a negative impact on the exports of domestic state-owned firms.

  • The paper contributes to a better understanding of how changes in institutions affect firm behavior by explaining the mechanisms that link structural reform to firm exports and how these vary across firms. Moreover, by indicating that not only foreign but also domestic private firms benefit from structural reform, it counters the arguments of detractors of globalization who claim that foreign firms are the sole beneficiaries of structural reform. The paper also highlights the need to discuss who benefits from structural reform rather than whether structural reform is beneficial or detrimental.