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Firm Size Matters: Growth and Productivity Growth in African Manufacturing/Exporting Raises Productivity in Sub-Saharan African Manufacturing Firms

Johannes VAN BIESEBROECK researcher laureate
jovb@chass.utoronto.ca

°1973 Belgium
Master in Economics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, 1995

Firm Size Matters: Growth and Productivity Growth in African Manufacturing/Exporting Raises Productivity in Sub-Saharan African Manufacturing Firms

The work of Johannes Van Biesebroeck is ‘mainstream’ in the sense that it is an empirical study of the productivity of enterprises. A vast amount of literature based on available and reliable data has been written on this subject for the developed countries. However, Johannes Van Biesebroeck has managed to set up similar studies for nine African states south of the Sahara, satisfying sufficient scientific criteria to be accepted for publication in leading general economic journals. The results clearly comprise a dimension that is relevant to development, all the more so since they do not always correspond with what is known about the more developed economies. He concluded that in the countries studied, it is mainly large and very large enterprises that are the driving force of the economy because they are more efficient than smaller enterprises, which means that they rarely have to give up their prominent role to up-and-coming smaller enterprises. Moreover, by means of exports, these larger enterprises can use their scale to further increase their efficiency without becoming dependent on the local market. A rational development policy should take these insights into consideration by, for example, not leaving larger enterprises to their fate when supporting local firms, and also offering smaller firms the necessary support that will help them grow. Moreover, the promotion of exports also appears to be worthwhile from a viewpoint of economic growth as well as from that of the efficient use of production factors.
 

Report: Prof. Marc Jegers, Micro-economics of the profit and non-profit sectors, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium