SMEs in Argentina: who are the exporters?
Christian Volpe Martincus
Accepted: 27 October 2009 / Published online: 24 November 2009
Ó Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2009
Abstract There exists a growing body of literature
which looks at export decisions made by ﬁrms. Most
studies focus on developed countries and do not
explore whether different behavioral patterns prevail
over the ﬁrm size distribution. This paper aims at ﬁlling
this gap in the literature by analyzing the export
behavior of a statistically representative sample of 192
small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in a devel-
oping country, Argentina, over the period 1996–1998.
We ﬁnd that the level of employment, sourcing from
abroad, investment in product improvement, and
average productivity are associated with higher prob-
ability of exporting. Training activities for employees
are important to export outside of MERCOSUR.
Keywords SME Á Exports Á Argentina
JEL Classiﬁcations F10 Á F14 Á D21 Á L26 Á L60
There is a growing body of literature analyzing the
export behavior of ﬁrms. Most studies look at
developed countries and do not explicitly explore
whether the corresponding ﬁndings remain robust
across ﬁrm sizes.
In particular, most ﬁrm-level
dataset only include ﬁrms with size above a certain
threshold. Thus, evidence on the lower segments of
the size distribution in developing countries is rather
Yet, a priori there are good reasons to
believe not only that ﬁrms of different sizes may
react differently to the various factors determining
their export decisions but also that the importance of
When the ﬁrst draft was ﬁnalized, the ﬁrst author belonged to
the faculty of the University of Bologna. The views and
interpretation in this document are strictly those of the authors
and should not be attributed to the Inter-American
Development Bank, its Executive Directors or its member
countries. The other usual disclaimers also apply.
G. Ottaviano (&)
Department of Economics and KITeS, Bocconi
University, Milan, Italy
C. Volpe Martincus
Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC,
Bernard and Jensen (1999, 2004) examine the determinants
of ﬁrms’ export performance in the USA; Bernard and Wagner
(2001) and Arnold and Hussinger (2005) in Germany; Castel-
lani (2002, 2009) in Italy; Delgado et al. (2002), Barrios et al.
(2003), and Blanes-Cristobal et al. (2008) in Spain; Head and
Ries (2003) in Japan; Eaton et al. (2004, 2008) in France;
Girma et al. (2004), Greenaway et al. (2007), and Kneller et al.
(2008) in the UK; and Lawless (2009) in Ireland.
Alvarez (2004) examines determinants of export perfor-
mance of Chilean manufacturing SMEs. He ﬁnds that greater
effort in international business, process innovation, and use of
export promotion programs are associated with higher proba-
bility of being a permanent exporter.
Small Bus Econ (2011) 37:341–361