Industrial organisation

Emek Basker, Timothy S. Simcoe, 18 January 2018

ICT fuelled rapid growth in US retail during the 1990s and 2000s. This column maps the adoption of universal product codes and scanners to show that the barcode was one of the main drivers of this growth. Companies adopting barcodes employed 10% more employees, delivered a wider range of products, and were more likely to procure from abroad.

Kristian Behrens, Brahim Boualam, Julien Martin, 03 January 2018

Policymakers strive to encourage resilience among firms. We often assume that industry clustering creates resistance to shocks. This column uses the evidence from Chinese imports in the Canadian textile industry to show that firms in clusters were in fact no more resilient to the ‘China shock’.

Ralph De Haas, Daniel Ferreira, Tom Kirchmaier, 24 December 2017

How boards perform their dual role of supervisor and advisor of corporate management is difficult to observe from outside of the company. This column presents a survey of non-executive directors in various emerging markets which reveals substantial variation in the structure and conduct of boards as well as in directors’ perceptions about the local legal environment. Directors who feel adequately empowered by local legislation appear less likely to vote against board proposals, and also form boards that play a stronger role in the company’s strategic decision making. 

Chen Lin, Randall Morck, Bernard Yeung, Xiaofeng Zhao, 22 December 2017

Chinese stocks rose sharply overall on news of President’s Xi’s 2012 policy cracking down on corruption, but non-state-owned enterprises in the country’s least liberalised provinces actually lost value. This column argues that China has taught the world something interesting – that prior market liberalisation makes anticorruption reforms more valuable. Once market forces are activated, bribe-hungry officials no longer grease the wheels but instead become pests and invite eradication.

Hideaki Tomita, 17 December 2017

Driverless vehicles are expected to become a reality on our roads in the near future. This column reviews research into the effects this will have on the economy and on society. New business models for truck operators and delivery companies, commuters putting the time they would have been driving to more productive use, and fewer accidents and greater efficiency on the road are among the developments that will benefit the economy. At the same time, driverless cars will become a major means of transport for elderly people in rural areas, while in urban areas the number of cars owned for personal use will drop sharply.

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