NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Slow Growth of New Plants: Learning about Demand?

Lucia Foster, John C. Haltiwanger, Chad Syverson

NBER Working Paper No. 17853
Issued in February 2012
NBER Program(s):   EFG   IO   PR

It is well known that new businesses are typically much smaller than their established industry competitors, and that this size gap closes slowly. We show that even in commodity-like product markets, these patterns do not reflect productivity gaps, but rather differences in demand-side fundamentals. We document and explore patterns in plants' idiosyncratic demand levels by estimating a dynamic model of plant expansion in the presence of a demand accumulation process (e.g., building a customer base). We find active accumulation driven by plants' past production decisions quantitatively dominates passive demand accumulation, and that within-firm spillovers affect demand levels but not growth.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17853

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