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Unraveling the relationship between firm size and economic development: The roles of embodied and disembodied technological progress

André van Stel (), Emilio Congregado () and Antonio Golpe ()

No H201109, Scales Research Reports from EIM Business and Policy Research

Abstract: In the last decade, an increasing body of literature has studied the relation between economic development and the rate of independent entrepreneurship. For several developed countries, this relation seems to have changed from a negative relation into a positive one. However, the role of technology, and in particular the roles of embodied and disembodied technological progress, in shaping this relation has not yet been established. We estimate a model, based on Lucas (1978), able to disentangle the roles of both these types of technological progress in determining average firm size (a concept closely but inversely related to the rate of independent entrepreneurship) for 23 OECD countries over the period 1972-2008. Our estimations allow us to establish, for each country, the relative importance of embodied technological change, vis-à-vis disembodied technological change, in determining average firm size. Our results suggest that, notwithstanding the rise of independent entrepreneurship observed in many countries over the last few decades, economies of scale and scope (embodied technological change) continue to play an important role in many advanced economies.

Pages: 21 pages
Date: 2012-10-15
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