Exporting and productivity in business services: evidence from the United States

James H. Love, Mica A. Mansury

Research output: Preprint or Working paperWorking paper


Does exporting make firms more productive, or do more productive firms choose to become exporters? Given the amount of resources devoted by governments to supporting exporters, this is an important question. There are reasons to expect exporting to boost productivity, both through the exposure to foreign competition which exporting brings, and through ‘learning by exporting’. However, the broad thrust of previous research is that more productive firms self-select into export markets, with relatively little evidence that exporting leads to higher productivity thereafter. This paper considers the link between exporting and productivity for a sample of firms in US business services. We find that larger, more productive firms are more likely to become exporters, but that these factors do not necessarily influence the extent of exporting. This conforms with previous literature that there is a self-selection effect into exporting. We then test for the effect of exporting on productivity levels after allowing for this selection effect. We model both the relationship between exporting and productivity, and a simultaneous relationship between export intensity and productivity after allowing for selection bias. In both cases we find a clear association, indicating that productivity is positively linked both to exporting and to increased exposure to international markets.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBirmingham (UK)
PublisherAston University
ISBN (Print)978-1-85449-679-9, 1-85449-679-4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007

Publication series

NameAston Business School research papers
PublisherAston University


  • exporting
  • productivity
  • services
  • self-selection
  • United States


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