The New Corporation in Europe. Bruegel Policy Brief 2008/07, September 2008

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(1)ISSUE 2008/07 SEPTEMBER 2008 bruegelpolicybrief THE NEW CORPORATION IN EUROPE by Dalia Marin SUMMARY Faced with increasing European and global competition and scarcity of top talent, Europe’s corporations are changing the way they do business. Detailed company-level evidence from Germany and Austria show how international firms are slicing up the value chain and introducing flatter chains of command in order to cut costs and woo the high-skill workers vital to them in a knowledge economy. This transformation to the ‘new corporation’ has important implications for the EU as it seeks to reframe policy for a globalised economy. POLICY CHALLENGE European businesses need to tackle the challenges of European and global competition and the scramble for brains. EU policy can either help or hinder this adaptation. Contrary to popular belief, both offshoring to the near-abroad and immigration of skilled workers can foster European competitiveness and help keep jobs in Europe. The chief challenges for the EU are threefold: to step up The ‘new stakeholder’: human capital European Neighbourhood Decentralised Policy as a catalyst for faster 4 and deeper integration of 3.5 Europe as an economic region; 3 to encourage the mobility of skilled workers; and to make 2.5 sure that EU trade policy, and 2 especially EU trade defence 1.5 action, does not score a 1 European ‘own goal’ by obstructing the operation of 0.5 global value chains where 0 >30 in percent 0 - 8.8 8.8 - 17.6 17.6 - 30 Centralised these clearly benefit the Workers with a university degree / total employment European economy as a whole. Level of decentralisation Research Fellow at Bruegel Professor of Economics, University of Munich d.marin@bruegel.org Source: Author’s calculations. Figures relate to Germany.

(2) THE NEW CORPORATION IN EUROPE 1 For a theory of the international organisation of production see Pol Antras and Elhanan Helpman (2004), for global sourcing strategies of European firms see Dalia Marin (2006), for the 'new new theories' of international trade, see Elhanan Helpman, Dalia Marin, Thierry Verdier (2008). 2 For corporate reorganisation of European firms, see Dalia Marin and Thierry Verdier (2008). A second key change in the way international corporations are organised is the trend towards flatter hierarchies – devolving control and management down the corporate chain of command. This delegation of decision-making power, from top management in the parent company to middle management, is driven to a significant extent by a need to attract and retain high-skill workers in an environment of tougher global competition for talent2. The question that then arises is whether there is evidence that the two big changes in corporate configuration described above are linked; in other words whether firms confronting increased international competition and a battle for talent are renewing themselves both in terms of physical structure and chain of command. Why does it matter how firms are organised? It matters for several reasons. Recent research suggests (Bloom and Van Reenen, 2007) that, apart from bringing the obvious cost savings, organisational factors and competitive edge are correlated in various ways. Firms with ‘better’ organisation tend, for example, to introduce new information technologies faster and tend to perform better in terms of productivity, market share and profits. The difference in organisational capital between United States and European firms might explain in part why Europe has been trailing the US recently in productivity growth. This Policy Brief examines the rise of the ‘new corporation’ in Europe. It uses firm-level data from Germany and Austria to document offshoring to eastern Europe and to illustrate how increases in international competition have triggered a change in the way businesses are organised. It explores how firms have switched to more decentralised, less hierarchical decision-making, and have empowered their high-skill workers in order to retain talent within the firm. Finally, the Policy Brief draws conclusions from the findings and examines the challenges these organisational changes pose for policymakers, in particular in the areas of EU neighbourhood and trade policies. 1. THE NEW CORPORATION With the fall of communism and the opening of markets to eastern Europe in 1989 European firms were able to expand into new markets as well as to find new sources of supply of lower-cost labour and inputs. With the surge in liberalisation both at the European as well as at the international level in the last 15 years, Europe has also considerably increased its openness (from 42 percent to 61 percent, see Box). The resulting increase in competitive pressure both from eastern Europe and the rest of the world has been a driving force behind the search for more efficient modes of organisation. Furthermore, tougher international competition has made it more Figure 1: Contract enforcement in eastern Europe Intra-firm imports / parent sales bruegelpolicybrief 02 IN THE LAST 15 YEARS global trade and investment have undergone dramatic change as a result of opening markets and increased global competition. There is much empirical evidence to show that international trade is growing mainly through an increase in trade in input goods, and in particular through a rise in intrafirm trade – international ‘slicing up’ of the value chain within multinational corporations. According to one estimate, trade in input goods has accounted for a third of the increase in global trade since 1970 (Hummels et al, 1998) and global investment outflows increased more than fourfold between 1990 and 2005, from US$ 202 billion to US$ 916 billion (World Investment Report 2006, UNCTAD). Within the EU27, intrafirm imports currently range from one quarter to two thirds of total imports between old and new EU member states, smaller countries having a higher volume of intrafirm trade than larger ones1. 4.5 4 3.5 3 2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 0 Weak 1 Source: Author’s calculations. 2 3 4 5 Effective

(3) THE NEW CORPORATION IN EUROPE this region for their sourcing strategies for inputs and talent. As a result, many firms offshored production to low-wage eastern Europe both to cut costs and to take advantage of the pool of skilled workers available there. Many firms also decentralised decision-making to the divisional level of the corporation to empower middle managers to bring new ideas to the firm and made human capital the ‘new THE DATA: WHY AUSTRIA AND GERMANY? Changes in corporate organisation among European firms are documented with detailed firm-level data on 660 global corporations based in Austria (200 firms) and in Germany (460 firms). The sample consists of 2,200 German and Austrian investment projects in eastern Europe over the period 1990 to 2001. In terms of value, the sample of German investments represents 80 percent of German outward foreign investment to eastern Europe and the sample of Austrian investments represents 100 percent of Austrian outward foreign investment to eastern Europe. Why look at Austrian and German corporations? Austria and Germany are particularly suitable countries to examine how increases in the exposure to international trade and the opening of markets to eastern Europe are driving corporate transformation of European firms. Austria and Germany are among the European countries that are most integrated into the world economy, their openess (exports plus imports as a percentage of GDP in 2006) is 85 and 69 percent respectively, compared to 61 percent for Europe (EU15) as a whole. Moreover, in the last 15 years, these two countries have been among those where the pace of integration into the global economy has been swiftest. In Germany the openess ratio increased from 37 percent in 1994 to 69 percent in 2006, while Austria’s trade share increased from 49 percent to 85 percent in the same period. At the same time, Germany and Austria are frontier test cases for the new industrial organisation in Europe. As direct neighbours of eastern Europe, firms in these two countries have been most affected by the opening up to the former communist countries. Exports and imports to the new member states as a percentage of GDP increased from two percent to 7.4 percent in Germany and from 4.1 percent to 11.3 percent in Austria between 1994 and 2006. Furthermore, in 2000-2001, eastern Europe, Russia and Ukraine accounted for 88 percent of Austrian foreign direct investment. German investment-led integration with eastern Europe started later but nevertheless accounted for 20 percent of German foreign direct investment in 2003-2005. Hence, the data and findings for Germany and Austria may give us a useful perspective on patterns that are valid for European firms as a whole. Figure 2: Trade openness: Austria, Germany, EU15 With the world With new member states 12% 80% 10% 60% 8% 6% 40% 4% 20% 2% 0% 0% 1994 2000 2006 EU15 Source: Thomson Datastream. 1994 Germany Austria 2000 2006 Exports and imports in percent of GDP 03 bruegelpolicybrief important for firms to create new ideas in order to stay competitive, and to hire the talent needed to do this. Improvements in contract enforcement in the former communist countries (Figure 1) made it possible for European firms to use

(4) THE NEW CORPORATION IN EUROPE bruegelpolicybrief 04 stakeholder’ in the firm in order to prevent talent from leaving. Table 1 Multinationals’ imports from eastern European subsidiaries (% total imports) 2. THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATION OF PRODUCTION Baltic States But how prevalent is offshoring to eastern Europe? One way to answer this question is to look at intra-firm trade – international trade that takes place within multinational corporations with subsidiaries in eastern Europe. Table 1 shows estimates of the share of intra-firm imports in total imports from eastern Europe between 1997 and 2000 for the corporations sampled. Intra-firm trade with eastern Europe is a dominant phenomenon in Austria’s trade: 68.5 percent of Austria’s imports from eastern Europe are made up of goods from Austrian subsidiaries. For Germany, intra-firm trade represents a sizeable 21.6 percent of imports from eastern Europe. Indeed, goods from German subsidiaries in Slovakia and Hungary account, respectively, for a hefty 65 percent and 40 percent of German imports from these countries. In sum, the pattern of intra-firm trade that has emerged between some of the older EU member states and eastern Europe clearly suggests that offshoring has become a significant phenomenon for European firms. 3. YOUNGER FIRMS, FLATTER HIERARCHIES How are global trade and competition affecting the internal organisation of European firms? Corporate transformation to younger organisations and more Austria Germany 0 14.41 42.17 15.64 100 40.46 Poland 64.91 15.34 Slovakia 54.71 64.98 Slovenia 48.36 9.38 Bulgaria 11.32 4.2 Romania 57.46 7.17 Croatia 40.4 1.95 Russia 26.7 1.67 Ukraine 21.52 2.44 Eastern Europe 68.52 21.56 Czech Republic Hungary Source: Author’s calculations. decentralised hierarchies among governed by the trade-off between Austrian and German firms are top-down control and individual documented in Figures 3 and 4. initiative within the firm: lack of First, we observe that almost half empowerment leads to the disafof all German and Austrian firms in fection of middle managers, and the survey have organisational delegation of power to middle units which are new or relatively managers involves the loss of cennew – under eight years of age. tral control. But corporate organiSecond, almost two thirds of sational choices about the Austrian firms and optimum level at over three quarters of which to pitch German firms have ‘Offshoring to decision-making partially or wholly eastern Europe has power are influenced d e c e n t r a l i s e d become a significant by the degree of dec i s i on- ma k i ng. exposure of the firm phenomenon for These data tend to to international support the argu- European firms.’ competition. With ment that internaincreased foreign tional firms, faced with increased competition it matters more for international competition and the profits who runs the firm – there is battle for talent, are renewing more at stake if errors are made. themselves both in terms of physi- However, at the same time, with cal structure and chain of increased foreign competition, it command. also becomes more important to generate new ideas and to How is international trade influ- empower middle managers to do encing the decision where in the this. Thus power is decentralised, corporation to locate decision- but when it really comes to the making power? This decision is crunch and international

(5) THE NEW CORPORATION IN EUROPE 70 Percentage of firms 60 Austria Germany 50 40 30 20 10 0 Less than 2 years 2-8 years More than 9 years Age of organisation Figure 4: Level of decision-making in corporations 60 Austria Germany Percentage of firms 50 40 30 20 10 0 1.00 - 2.5 Centralised 2.51 - 3.5 Level of decentralisation 3.51 - 5.00 Decentralised Figure 5: Decentralisation and international competition Level of decentralisation (Austrian corporations) Decentralised 3.5 Austrian corporations German corporations Decentralised 3.06 3 3.04 3.02 2.5 3.00 2 2.98 1.5 2.96 2.94 1 2.92 0.5 2.90 0 Centralised Level of decentralisation (German corporations) Figure 5 illustrates the above relationship between the number of foreign competitors and the level of decision-making in corporations in Austria and Germany. Firms are ranked by their level of decentralisation of decision-making for 16 corporate decisions, where 1 represents a decision taken by the CEO at the top of the organisation (centralised firm) and 5 a decision taken at the divisional level (decentralised firm). 05 Evidence for this trend is to be found in Figure 6, overleaf, which Source for Figures 3 and 4: Author’s calculations. competition becomes very tough, it seems from the evidence that firms ‘play safe’ and re-centralise power3. Perhaps the most dramatic change observed in the last 15 years – and corroborated by the data in this survey – is that the nature of the corporation itself is changing. Human capital has become the ‘new stakeholder’ in the firm. The enterprise of the past was defined by the ownership of physical assets. Ownership of physical capital was the primary source of power in the enterprise. In contrast, in many enterprises today human capital and talent rather than plant and machinery are the critical assets. Innovative and customised solutions are the key source of profits. Thus, the enterprise’s workforce has become an important source of value to the firm. At the same time, however, due to increased openness human capital and talent have more opportunities than before for professional mobility. Thus, a key focus of corporate governance today is how firms can woo and keep talent4. bruegelpolicybrief Figure 3: Organisational change None Few Many Number of foreign competitors Source: Author’s calculations. Very many 2.88 Centralised 3 See Dalia Marin and Thierry Verdier (2008). 4 How international trade contributes to the emergence of the ‘talent firm’ in which human capital becomes the ‘new stakeholder’,see Marin and Verdier (2004).

(6) THE NEW CORPORATION IN EUROPE 4. CONCLUSIONS AND POLICY CHALLENGE We may draw two general conclusions from the evidence and analysis in this Policy Brief: The integration of the newer member states of the EU into the European economy is contributing to keeping firms – and thus added value – in Europe at a time of heightening global competition, when firms might otherwise be tempted to move some or all of their operations to China or to other fast-emerging economies. Flatter corporate hierarchies will tend to help European firms woo and keep high-skill workers against the backdrop of the global battle for talent. And where talent is located, research and development activities are more likely to be situated, again with positive spillovers for added value in Europe. In light of the above general conclusions, we might draw two more specific policy conclusions: 5 See Fragmented Power: Europe and the Global Economy, A. Sapir (Ed), Bruegel Books, 2007. EU Neighbourhood Policy: The EU should step up efforts to integrate the economies of neighbourhood countries into the European economy5. The EU should increase efforts to encourage mobility of high-skilled workers in Europe, in particular from the new member states, to help Europe to stay competitive in an increasingly Figure 6: The ‘new stakeholder’: human capital Decentralised 4 3.5 Level of decentralisation bruegelpolicybrief 06 shows that more skill-intensive corporations in Germany – corporations with a larger share of workers with a university education – tend to have more decentralised corporate hierarchies with power delegated to the divisional level. 3 2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 0 Centralised 0 - 8.8 8.8 - 17.6 17.6 - 30 >30 in percent Workers with a university degree / total employment More human capital-intensive corporations in Germany – corporations with a larger share of workers with a university education – tend to have more decentralised corporate decision-making in order to empower their human capital and provide incentives for talent to stay with the firm. Source: Author’s calculations. challenging global environment. artificially hinder this process Firms are doing their part by reor- through use of trade defence ganising their chain of command instruments (antidumping, antito empower their human capital subsidy action). With the internaworkers. Now policy must play its tional organisation of production part to facilitate the flow of work- the conflict of interest with respect to the design of ers across Europe, in trade policy is no particular from the ‘Integration of the longer across new member states. sectors as before, Furthermore, the EU newer member states but rather takes should pursue into the EU economy place within sectors efforts to promote contributes to keeping at the firm level and contract enforcedepends on how ment throughout firms in Europe at a time of heightening firms are organised Europe in order to (input-importing facilitate European global competition.’ firms versus importbusiness there, competing firms) or which is a key determinant of future economic integra- takes place within groups (tasks tion of neighbourhood countries undertaken by workers which are with the EU, to the benefit of both. easily transferable to other countries versus tasks not easily EU Trade Policy: Where firms need transferable). Hence, firm boundto offshore lower value-added aries may become more important operations outside the EU and its than country boundaries for the vicinity in order to compete design of future EU trade policy. globally, EU policy should not

(7) THE NEW CORPORATION IN EUROPE Antras, P. and E. Helpman, 2004, Global Sourcing. Journal of Political Economy, 112(3), p. 552-580. Bloom, N. and J. Van Reenen, 2007, Measuring and Explaining Management Practices across Firms and Countries, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 4, 1351-1408. Helpman, E., D. Marin and T. Verdier (Eds), 2008, The Organisation of Firms in a Global Economy, Harvard University Press, forthcoming. Hummels, D., D. Rapoport and Kei-Mu Yi, 1998, Vertical Specialisation and the Changing Nature of World Trade, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Economic Policy Review, June. Marin, D., 2004, A Nation of Poets and Thinkers – Less So with Eastern Enlargment? Austria and Germany, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Discussion Paper No. 4358, London. Marin, D., 2006, A New International Division of Labour in Europe: Outsourcing and Offshoring to Eastern Europe. Journal of the European Economic Association, Papers and Proceedings, 4(2-3), p. 612-623. Marin, D., 2008, The ‘New Corporation’ in Europe. Bruegel Working Paper, Brussels, forthcoming. Marin, D. and T. Verdier, 2003, Globalisation and the ’New Enterprise’. Journal of the European Economic Association. Papers and Proceedings, 1(2-3), p. 337-344. Marin, D. and T. Verdier, 2004, Globalisation and the Empowerment of Talent. Centre for Economic Policy Research. CEPR Discussion Paper No. 4129, London. Marin, D. and T. Verdier, 2008, Corporate Hierarchies and the Size of Nations: Theory and Evidence, Centre for Economic Policy Research, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 6734, London. Ottaviano, G. and T. Mayer, 2007, The Happy Few: The Internationalisation of European Firms, Bruegel Brueprint Series, November, Brussels. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), World Investment Report 2006, available at http://www.unctad.org/en/docs/wir2006_en.pdf Von Weizsäcker, J., 2006, Welcome to Europe, Bruegel Policy Brief, April, Brussels. 07 bruegelpolicybrief REFERENCES:

(8) bruegelpolicybrief 08 ABOUT BRUEGEL Bruegel is a European think tank devoted to international economics. It started operations in Brussels in 2005 as a Belgian non-profit international organisation supported by European governments and leading corporations. Bruegel seeks to contribute to the quality of economic policymaking in Europe through open, factsbased and policy-relevant research, analysis and discussion. Bruegel issues a range of publications. Bruegel Policy Briefs provide concise, topical analysis targeted at an audience of executives and policy decision-makers, with an emphasis on concrete policy orientation. The Bruegel Blueprint Series provides comprehensive analysis and policy recommendations on central questions of the moment. Bruegel Policy Contributions are responses to requests by policymakers or public bodies, including testimonies at hearings or responses to public consultation. Bruegel and its researchers also publish working papers, op-eds, collaborative papers with other organisations, and essays. ‘The new corporation in Europe’ is the seventh Bruegel Policy Brief to be published in 2008. Bruegel’s research is independent and does not represent the views of its board or members. For a full picture of Bruegel activities and publications, visit the website at www.bruegel.org. BRUEGEL BLUEPRINTS The Bruegel Blueprint Series consists of longer reports, going beyond economic analysis to make detailed recommendations to policymakers. Five Bruegel Blueprints have been published: 1 Energy: choices for Europe (March 2007) Can Europe’s nations go alone in their quest for a secure, competitive and environmentallysustainable energy future? Or will this lead to a dispersion of effort, even to mutually undercutting national policies? 2 The global accounting experiment (April 2007) Accounting standard-setting is a frontier experiment in international governance, where private initiative can succeed in solving a collective problem that nation-states could not tackle effectively. 3 The happy few: the internationalisation of European firms (November 2007) The 2007 report from the research network European Firms and International Markets (EFIM) is the first systematic, cross-country, firm-level research of the features of European firms competing internationally. 4 Coming of Age: Report on the euro area (January 2008) This report surveys the economic performance of the euro area and gives recommendations about six policy challenges of major importance for the future of EMU. 5 Higher aspirations: an agenda for reforming European universities (July 2008) Since the introduction of the Shanghai ranking of the world’s universities it has been clear that European universities are underperforming. For more details, go to http://www.bruegel.org/Public/PublicationPage.php?ID=1538 © Bruegel 2008. All rights reserved. Short sections of text, not to exceed two paragraphs, may be quoted in the original language without explicit permission provided that the source is acknowledged. The Bruegel Policy Brief Series is published under the editorial responsibility of Jean Pisani-Ferry, Director. Opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) alone. Visit www.bruegel.org for information on Bruegel's activities and publications. Bruegel - Rue de la Charité 33, B-1210 Brussels - phone (+32) 2 227 4210 info@bruegel.org

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