|Abstract or Summary
- This dissertation’s three essays investigate trade and productivity effects on firm behavior based on new heterogeneous-firms trade models in the case of Korea. In the first essay, firms’ decision to export in the case of Korean manufacturing industries is examined, where the change in firms’ productivity before and after exports are analyzed. In particular, two common hypotheses of export decision - self-selection and learning-by-exporting- are tested using a dynamic model of firm export behavior and a Korean firm-level panel database. Evidence of self-selection is found in only three out of eight industries, but that of learning-by-exporting is limited. Sunk-cost or previous-export-experience effect on the predicted export probability is relatively larger than that of firms’ productivity and size.
The second essay investigates the effect of trade cost changes on firms’ entry and exit in Korean manufacturing. Empirical support is found for new trade theories’ predictions on firm entry and exit, and the number of exporting firms, and changes in market share following trade-cost changes. However, Korean manufacturing appears to differ from some of the outcomes of the heterogeneous-firms theory, especially in the result that large firms are less likely to be a new exporter. Rather, smaller and less capital-intensive firms tended to enter the export market. In general, the results of this essay show that changing trade costs had important consequences for the structure of manufacturing activity in Korea.
In the final essay, the differences in the scale economies of exporters and non-exporters in Korean manufacturing are investigated. Results from estimating a production function show that exporters face diseconomies of scale in four of five industries. A matching technique confirms the difference in returns to scale between exporters and non-exporters. The evidence that size and hence, scale economies may be less important for trade participation and gains from overseas market, bodes well for small or medium exporters.
In summary, this dissertation has improved the understanding of the relationships among trade, productivity and firm behavior. The key determinant of firms’ export behavior in the Korean context appears to be previous experience in overseas markets. Not surprisingly, the Korean government has invested heavily in lowering their firms’ cost of accessing foreign markets. In industries where Korea has a comparative advantage, high productivity of firms appears to promote trade participation. However, productivity growth in other industries is low and falling, in some cases. A balanced approach to investments in productivity and export promotion would sustain and improve Korean manufacturing’s competitiveness in global markets.