Accounting for Cross-Location Technological Heterogeneity in the Measurement of Operations Efficiency and Productivity

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Journal of Operations Management


Motivated by the long-standing interest in understanding the role of location for firm performance, this paper provides a semiparametric methodology to accommodate locational heterogeneity in production analysis. Our approach is novel in that we explicitly model spatial variation in parameters in the production-function estimation. We accomplish this by allowing both the input-elasticity and productivity parameters to be unknown functions of the firm's geographic location and estimate them via local kernel methods. This allows the production technology to vary across space, thereby accommodating neighborhood influences on firm production. In doing so, we are also able to examine the role of cross-location differences in explaining the variation in operational productivity among firms. Our model is superior to the alternative spatial production-function formulations because it (i) explicitly estimates the cross-locational variation in production functions, (ii) is readily reconcilable with the conventional production axioms and, more importantly, (iii) can be identified from the data by building on the popular proxy-variable methods, which we extend to incorporate locational heterogeneity. Using our methodology, we study China's chemicals manufacturing industry and find that differences in technology (as opposed to in idiosyncratic firm heterogeneity) are the main source of the cross-location differential in total productivity in this industry.


Agglomeration; Firm performance; Location; Operations efficiency; Production function; Productivity; Proxy variable


Accounting | Technology and Innovation

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