Market Power, Input Costs, and Technology

The research group deals with the empirical analysis of the dynamics and determinants of economic development. Thereby, we recognize that these are individual heterogeneous firms with their specific capabilities to innovate and to efficiently allocate scarce resources that shape patterns at higher level of aggregation (e.g. cause structural change). While following a micro-level approach we aim at adding to the understanding of the actual mechanisms and dynamics in the development of economies as well as for the development of policy instruments. For instance, one of the current research projects deals with the effect of import competition on the productivity and innovating behaviour of firms as well as on the dynamic in and of industries

The research group works closely together with CompNet.

Research Cluster
Productivity and Institutions

Your contact

Dr Matthias Mertens
Dr Matthias Mertens
Mitglied - Department Structural Change and Productivity
Send Message +49 345 7753-707 Personal page


09.2016 ‐

The Competitiveness Research Network (CompNet)

Funding institutions: European Central Bank (ECB), European Investment Bank (EIB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Tinbergen Institute, European Commission.

The Competitiveness Research Network (CompNet) provides a forum for high level research and policy analysis in the areas of competitiveness and productivity. Its main activities include the regular updating of its micro-based competitiveness database for European countries, unprecedented in terms of coverage and cross-country comparability.

Professor Reint E. Gropp, PhD

Refereed Publications


Determinants of the Efficiency of Regional Innovation Systems

Michael Fritsch Viktor Slavtchev

in: Regional Studies, No. 7, 2011


Determinants of the efficiency of regional innovation systems, Regional Studies. This paper analyses differences in the efficiency of regional innovation systems. Alternative measures for the efficiency of regional innovation systems based on the concept of a knowledge production function are discussed. The empirical findings suggest that spillovers from within the private sector as well as from universities and other public research institutions have a positive effect on the efficiency of private sector research and development. It is particularly the intensity of interactions between private and public sector research and development that increases the efficiency. It is found that regions dominated by large establishments tend to be less efficient than regions with a lower average establishment size.

read publication


How Does Industry Specialization Affect the Efficiency of Regional Innovation Systems?

Michael Fritsch Viktor Slavtchev

in: Annals of Regional Science, No. 1, 2010


This study analyzes the relationship between the specialization of a region in certain industries and the efficiency of the region in generating new knowledge. The efficiency measure is constructed by relating regional R&D input and output. An inversely u-shaped relationship is found between regional specialization and R&D efficiency, indicating the presence of externalities of both Marshall and Jacobs’ type. Further factors influencing efficiency are externalities resulting from high R&D intensity of the local private sector as well as knowledge from local public research institutions. The impact of both the specialization and the additional factors is, however, different for regions at different efficiency levels.

read publication

Universities and Innovation in Space

Michael Fritsch Viktor Slavtchev

in: Industry and Innovation, No. 2, 2007


We investigate the role of universities as a knowledge source for regional innovation processes. The contribution of universities is tested on the level of German NUTS‐3 regions (Kreise) by using a variety of indicators. We find that the intensity and quality of the research conducted by the universities have a significant effect on regional innovative output while pure size is unimportant. Therefore, a policy that wants to promote regional innovation processes by building up universities should place substantial emphasis on the intensity and quality of the research conducted there. We also find the effects of universities to be concentrated in space. Obviously, the geographical proximity to particular knowledge sources is important for regional innovative activities.

read publication

Working Papers


Do Larger Firms Have Higher Markups?

Matthias Mertens Bernardo Mottironi

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 1, 2023


Several models posit a positive cross-sectional correlation between markups and firm size, which, among others, characterizes misallocation, factor shares, and gains from trade. Yet, taking labor market power into account in markup estimation, we show that larger firms have lower markups. This correlation turns positive only after conditioning on wage markdowns, suggesting interactions between product and labor market power. Our findings are robust to common criticism (e.g., price bias) and hold across 19 European countries. We discuss the resulting implications and highlight studying input and output market power within an integrated framework as an important next step for future research.

read publication


Offshoring, Domestic Employment and Production. Evidence from the German International Sourcing Survey

Wolfhard Kaus Markus Zimmermann

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 14, 2022


This paper analyses the effect of offshoring (i.e., the relocation of activities previously performed in-house to foreign countries) on various firm outcomes (domestic employment, production, and productivity). It uses data from the International Sourcing Survey (ISS) 2017 for Germany, linked to other firm level data such as business register and ITGS data. First, we find that offshoring is a rare event: In the sample of firms with 50 or more persons employed, only about 3% of manufacturing firms and 1% of business service firms have performed offshoring in the period 2014-2016. Second, difference-in-differences propensity score matching estimates reveal a negative effect of offshoring on domestic employment and production. Most of this negative effect is not because the offshoring firms shrink, but rather because they don’t grow as fast as the non-offshoring firms. We further decompose the underlying employment dynamics by using direct survey evidence on how many jobs the firms destroyed/created due to offshoring. Moreover, we do not find an effect on labour productivity, since the negative effect on domestic employment and production are more or less of the same size. Third, the German data confirm previous findings for Denmark that offshoring is associated with an increase in the share of ‘produced goods imports’, i.e. offshoring firms increase their imports for the same goods they continue to produce domestically. In contrast, it is not the case that offshoring firms increase the share of intermediate goods imports (a commonly used proxy for offshoring), as defined by the BEC Rev. 5 classification.

read publication


Labour Market Power and Between-Firm Wage (In)Equality

Matthias Mertens

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 13, 2020


I study how labour market power affects firm wage differences using German manufacturing sector firm-level data (1995-2016). In past decades, labour market power increasingly moderated rising between-firm wage inequality. This is because high-paying firms possess high and increasing labour market power and pay wages below competitive levels, whereas low-wage firms pay competitive wages. Over time, large, high-wage, high-productivity firms generate increasingly large labour market rents while selling on competitive product markets. This provides novel insights on why such “superstar firms” are profitable and successful. Using micro-aggregated data covering most economic sectors, I validate my results for ten other European countries.

read publication


Intangible Capital and Productivity. Firm-level Evidence from German Manufacturing

Wolfhard Kaus Viktor Slavtchev Markus Zimmermann

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 1, 2020


We study the importance of intangible capital (R&D, software, patents) for the measurement of productivity using firm-level panel data from German manufacturing. We first document a number of facts on the evolution of intangible investment over time, and its distribution across firms. Aggregate intangible investment increased over time. However, the distribution of intangible investment, even more so than that of physical investment, is heavily right-skewed, with many firms investing nothing or little, and a few firms having very large intensities. Intangible investment is also lumpy. Firms that invest more intensively in intangibles (per capita or as sales share) also tend to be more productive. In a second step, we estimate production functions with and without intangible capital using recent control function approaches to account for the simultaneity of input choice and unobserved productivity shocks. We find a positive output elasticity for research and development (R&D) and, to a lesser extent, software and patent investment. Moreover, the production function estimates show substantial heterogeneity in the output elasticities across industries and firms. While intangible capital has small effects for firms with low intangible intensity, there are strong positive effects for high-intensity firms. Finally, including intangibles in a gross output production function reduces productivity dispersion (measured by the 90-10 decile range) on average by 3%, in some industries as much as nearly 9%.

read publication


Import Competition and Firm Productivity: Evidence from German Manufacturing

Richard Bräuer Matthias Mertens Viktor Slavtchev

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 20, 2019


This study analyses empirically the effects of import competition on firm productivity (TFPQ) using administrative firm-level panel data from German manufacturing. We find that only import competition from high-income countries is associated with positive incentives for firms to invest in productivity improvement, whereas import competition from middle- and low-income countries is not. To rationalise these findings, we further look at the characteristics of imports from the two types of countries and the effects on R&D, employment and sales. We provide evidence that imports from high-income countries are relatively capital-intensive and technologically more sophisticated goods, at which German firms tend to be relatively good. Costly investment in productivity appears feasible reaction to such type of competition and we find no evidence for downscaling. Imports from middle- and low-wage countries are relatively labour-intensive and technologically less sophisticated goods, at which German firms tend to generally be at disadvantage. In this case, there are no incentives to invest in innovation and productivity and firms tend to decline in sales and employment.

read publication
Mitglied der Leibniz-Gemeinschaft LogoTotal-Equality-LogoWeltoffen Logo