Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Factory Productivity, Firm Organization, and Corporation Reform in Late Imperial Russia
by Gregg, Amanda Grace, Ph.D., Yale University, 2015, 281; 3663480
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation shows how firm organization affected factory performance in the Russian Empire. The first chapter documents the impact of incorporation on firms' production technology and productivity. The second chapter studies the effect of a change in Russia's commercial code in 1901, a reform that improved the rights of small corporate shareholders. In the third chapter, I show how geography and legal forms of organization determined horizontal and vertical integration in the Russian cotton textile industry. The dataset at the heart of the project allows for a rare empirical study of the effect of organization on production at the factory level.

Chapter 1: Factory Productivity and the Concession System of Incorporation in Late Imperial Russia, 1894-1908 In late Imperial Russia, long-term capital was scarce. Incorporation in the Russian Empire required a time-consuming and expensive Imperial concession, yet over four thousand Russian firms incorporated before 1914. I identify the characteristics of firms that chose to incorporate and measure the gains in productivity and growth in machine power enjoyed by corporations using a newly-constructed panel database of manufacturing enterprises I compiled from Imperial Russian factory censuses conducted in 1894, 1900, and 1908. Factories owned by corporations were larger, more productive, and grew faster. Higher productivity factories were more likely to incorporate, and after incorporating, they added machine power and became even more productive. Results from an instrumental variables regression suggest that selection into incorporation was not determined solely by productivity and could be influenced, for example, by connections to government officials. Comparing two kinds of corporations shows that firms sought not just access to stock markets but the corporate form's full set of capital advantages.

Chapter 2: Shareholder Rights and Share Capital: The Effect of the 1901 Russian Corporation Reform, 1890-1905 The Russian 1901 corporation reform increased the rights of small shareholders and removed bankers from corporations' boards of directors. The reform affected one type of corporation (the A-Corporation) more than another type (called the Share Partnership) because one provision of the law created a loophole for Share Partnerships. I thus apply a differences-in-differences approach, studying the differences in corporations of these groups founded before vs. after the reform. The RUSCORP Database (Owen 1990) provides initial charter information from all Russian corporations and from all surviving Russian corporations in 1905. I find that, in response the reform, A-Corporations increased the par value of their shares, reduced their total capitalization, and reduced the number of shares they issued. The reform increased the cost to the firm of having small shareholders; thus, corporations affected by the reform began to resemble the more closely held Share Partnerships.

Chapter 3: Vertical and Horizontal Integration in Imperial Russian Cotton Textiles, 1894-1900 When do firms produce their own inputs instead of purchasing them on the market? In one explanation firms engage in vertical integration to save the cost of transacting on the market, especially when markets are thinner and therefore price risk is greater (Coase 1937). On the other hand, firms that wish to vertically or horizontally integrate may be unable to do if they face financial constraints, because integration requires additional capital. In the third chapter, I find evidence for a thin markets explanation of integration within the Russian cotton textile industry in 1894 and 1900. The 1894 data provide especially rich information on firms' horizontal and vertical integration: the data list a complete description of each factory's internal activities and final products. Both vertically and horizontally integrated factories and firms were larger in terms of number of workers and tended to be located outside of European Russia, where markets were thinner. Vertically integrated firms were older, had more workers and machine power, and produced more revenue per worker given the same machine power. Corporations produced more revenue per worker than non-corporations, even controlling for vertical integration.

Data Appendix: Imperial Russian Manufacturing Establishments Database: 1894, 1900, and 1908 The dissertation includes an appendix in which I describe the formation of a new database of manufacturing establishments in the Russian Empire based on manufacturing censuses conducted in 1894, 1900, and 1908. The database will allow for new studies of the Russian economy and of factory performance in developing economies. This appendix provides a codebook with variable definitions and a description of the censuses' sampling frame. The database matches factories over time, so I include an analysis comparing matched to unmatched factories. Finally, I describe differences in results that use the enterprise-level data and the aggregate data.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Guinnane, Timothy
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 76/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Economic history, Russian history
Keywords: Concession system, Corporations, Enterprise forms, Manufacturing, Manufacturing census, Russia
Publication Number: 3663480
ISBN: 978-1-321-92967-6
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