Enhancing Social Capital in Latin America

Since its formation, the Latin America Research Center (LARC) has worked to enhance intellectual capital creation by working with academics as well as business leaders in the region.

Programs in this area, supported by the LARC include:

The Global Colloquium on Participant-Centered Learning (GloColl), is an HBS course for faculty at business schools in emerging economies who are trained in interactive methods of teaching and learning.

The Social Enterprise Knowledge Network (SEKN), a consortium of eleven business schools that research and develop teaching cases on social enterprise in leading Latin American business schools.

Executive Education
in Latin America

Latin America

2013

Industrial Policy and the Creation of New Industries: Evidence from Brazil's Bioethanol Industry

Khanna, Tarun, and Santiago Mingo
November 2013

Industrial policy programs are frequently used by governments to stimulate economic activity in particular sectors of the economy. This study explores how an industrial policy program can affect the creation and evolution of an industry and, ultimately, the long-term performance of firms. We examine the history of the Brazilian bioethanol industry, focusing on the industrial policy program implemented by the Brazilian government in the 1970s to develop the industry. We put together a novel data set containing detailed information about the history of bioethanol producers. Our findings show that plants founded during the industrial policy program tend to be, in the long run, more productive than those founded before the program was in place. Based on additional analyses and complementary fieldwork, we infer that the wave of acquisitions that occurred after the end of the industrial policy program had an important effect on the performance of the plants founded when the program was in place. Industrial policy, especially in conjunction with a competitive post-industrial policy business landscape, can succeed in nurturing competitive firms.

Industrial and Corporate Change

NBC and the 2012 London Olympics: Unexpected Success

Greyser, Stephen A., and Vadim Kogan
September 2013

The 2010 Vancouver Winter Games lost $223 million, astonishing for a 17-day event. Next year's London Summer Games, which cost a record Olympic rights fee of $1.18 billion, are expected to lose at least as much..." wrote Richard Sandomir in The New York Times. "NBC Could Lose $100 Million On London Olympics; Ratings Not Expected To Beat Beijing," chimed in John Clarke with Forbes. Sandomir and Clarke were not alone in their damning prediction. Analysts and media put forth similar commentary following NBC's embarrassing loss in Vancouver. The media had prepared a grave for NBC as the 2012 London Olympics approached. Indeed, critics created #NBCFail to characterize their expectations. Yet, as the Games wound down, it was NBC that was smiling. Their forecast had paid off. They found that not only were the Games profitable that year, they had achieved record viewership. How could they have gone from one extreme of failure to another extreme of success so quickly? The network began analyzing factors that helped-as well as decisions that had received much criticism-so that it could begin its planning of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-028, September 2013

Leadership Lessons from the Chilean Mine Rescue

Rashid, Faaiza, Amy C. Edmondson, and Herman B. Leonard
July 2013

Three years ago, when a cave-in at the San José mine in Chile trapped 33 men under 700,000 metric tons of rock, experts estimated the probability of getting them out alive at less than 1%. Yet, after spending a record 69 days underground, all 33 were hoisted up to safety. The inspiring story of their rescue is a case study in how to lead in situations where the stakes, risk, and uncertainty are incredibly high and time pressure is intense. Today executives often find themselves in similar straits. When they do, many feel torn. Should they be directive, taking charge and commanding action? Or should they be empowering, enabling innovation and experimentation? As the successful example of André Sougarret, the chief of the mine rescue operation, shows, the answer is yes-to both. The choice is a false dichotomy. Implementing this dual approach involves three key tasks. Each has directive and enabling components. The first task is envisioning, which requires instilling both realism and hope. The second task is enrolling, which means setting clear boundaries for who is on and off the team, but inviting in helpful collaborators. The third task is engaging-leading disciplined execution while encouraging innovation and experimentation. The authors of this article describe how Sougarret ably juggled all of these tasks, orchestrating the efforts of hundreds of people from different organizations, areas of expertise, and countries in an extraordinary mission that overcame impossible odds.

Harvard Business Review 91, nos. 7/8 (July-August 2013): 113-119

Do Savings Constraints Lead to Indebtedness? Experimental Evidence from Access to Formal Savings Accounts in Chile

Kast, Felipe, and Dina Pomeranz
July 2013

Poverty is often characterized not only by low and unstable income, but also by heavy debt burdens. We find that the inability to save contributes to this indebtedness. Access to free savings accounts substantially decreases participants' propensity to use short-term credit. In addition, participants who experience an economic shock have less need to reduce consumption and subjective well-being improves significantly. Precautionary savings and credit therefore act as substitutes in providing self-insurance, and participants prefer saving more when given the choice. Take-up patterns suggest that requests by others for participants to share their resources are a key obstacle to saving.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-001, July 2013

Leviathan as a Minority Shareholder: Firm-level Implications of Equity Purchases by the State

Inoue, Carlos F.K.V., Sergio G. Lazzarini, and Aldo Musacchio
March 2013

In many countries, firms face institutional voids that raise the costs of doing business and thwart entrepreneurial activity. We examine a particular mechanism to address those voids: minority state ownership. Due to their minority nature, such stakes are less affected by the agency distortions commonly found in full-fledged state-owned firms. Using panel data from publicly traded firms in Brazil, where the government holds minority stakes through its development bank (BNDES), we find a positive effect of those stakes on firms' return on assets and on the capital expenditures of financially constrained firms with investment opportunities. However, these positive effects are substantially reduced when minority stakes are allocated to business group affiliates and when local institutions develop. Therefore, we shed light on the firm-level implications of minority state ownership, a topic that has received scant attention in the strategy literature.

Academy of Management Journal

In Strange Company: The Puzzle of Private Investment in State-Controlled Firms

Pargendler, Mariana, Aldo Musacchio, and Sergio G. Lazzarini
March 2013

A large legal and economic literature describes how state-owned enterprises (SOEs) suffer from a variety of agency and political problems. Less theory and evidence, however, have been generated about the reasons why state-owned enterprises listed in stock markets manage to attract investors to buy their shares (and bonds). In this article, we examine this apparent puzzle and develop a theory of how legal and extralegal constraints allow mixed enterprises to solve some of these problems. We then use three detailed case studies of state-owned oil companies-Brazil's Petrobras, Norway's Statoil, and Mexico's Pemex-to examine how our theory fares in practice. Overall, we show how mixed enterprises have made progress to solve some of their agency problems, even as government intervention persists as the biggest threat to private minority shareholders in these firms.

Cornell International Law Review (forthcoming).

Entrepreneurs, Firms and Global Wealth since 1850

Jones, Geoff
March 2013

This working paper integrates the role of entrepreneurship and firms into debates on why Asia, Latin America, and Africa were slow to catch up with the West following the Industrial Revolution and the advent of modern economic growth. It argues that the currently dominant explanations, which focus on deficient institutions, poor human capital development, geography, and culture are important but not sufficient. This is partly because recent research in business history has shown that several of the arguments are not empirically proved, but especially because the impact of these factors on the creation and performance of innovative business enterprises is not clearly specified. Modern economic growth diffused from its origins in the North Sea region to elsewhere in western and northern Europe, across the Atlantic, and later to Japan, but struggled to get traction elsewhere. The societal and cultural embeddedness of the new technologies posed significant entrepreneurial challenges. The best equipped to overcome these challenges were often entrepreneurs based in minorities who held significant advantages in capital-raising and trust levels. By the interwar years, productive modern business enterprise was emerging across the non-Western world. Often local and Western managerial practices were combined to produce hybrid forms of business enterprise. After 1945 many governmental policies designed to facilitate catch-up ended up crippling these emergent business enterprises without putting effective alternatives in place. The second global economy has provided more opportunities for catch up from the Rest and has seen the rapid growth of globally competitive businesses in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. This is explained not only by institutional reforms, but also by new ways for business in the Rest to access knowledge and capital, including returning diaspora, business schools, and management consultancies. Smarter state capitalism was also a greater source of international competitive advantage than the state intervention often seen in the past.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 13-076, March 2013

Criminal Recidivism after Prison and Electronic Monitoring

Di Tella, Rafael, and Ernesto Schargrodsky
February 2013

We study criminal recidivism in Argentina by focusing on the re-arrest rates of two groups: individuals released from prison and individuals released from electronic monitoring. Detainees are randomly assigned to judges, and ideological differences across judges translate into large differences in the allocation of electronic monitoring to an otherwise similar population. Using these peculiarities of the Argentine setting, we argue that there is a large, negative causal effect on criminal recidivism of treating individuals with electronic monitoring relative to prison.

Journal of Political Economy 121, no. 1 (2013).

In Strange Company: The Puzzle of Private Investment in State-Controlled Firms

Pargendler, Mariana, Aldo Musacchio, and Sergio G. Lazzarini
February 2013

A large legal and economic literature describes how state-owned enterprises (SOEs) suffer from a variety of agency and political problems. Less theory and evidence, however, have been generated about the reasons why state-owned enterprises listed in stock markets manage to attract investors to buy their shares (and bonds). In this article, we examine this apparent puzzle and develop a theory of how legal and extralegal constraints allow mixed enterprises to solve some of these problems. We then use three detailed case studies of state-owned oil companies-Brazil's Petrobras, Norway's Statoil, and Mexico's Pemex-to examine how our theory fares in practice. Overall, we show how mixed enterprises have made progress to solve some of their agency problems, even as government intervention persists as the biggest threat to private minority shareholders in these firms.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 13-071

These Are the Good Old Days: Foreign Entry and the Mexican Banking System

Haber, Stephen, and Aldo Musacchio
January 2013

In 1997, the Mexican government reversed long-standing policies and allowed foreign banks to purchase Mexico's largest commercial banks and relaxed restrictions on the founding of new, foreign-owned banks. The result has been a dramatic shift in the ownership structure of Mexico's banks. For instance, while in 1991 only 1% of bank assets in Mexico were foreign owned, today they control 74% of assets. In no other country in the world has the penetration of foreign banks been as rapid or as far-reaching as in Mexico. In this work we examine some of the important implications of foreign bank entry for social welfare in Mexico. Did liberalization lead to an increase (or decrease) in the supply of credit? Did liberalization lead to an increase (or decrease) in the cost of credit? Did liberalization lead to an increase (or decrease) in the stability of the banking system? In order to answer these questions, we must first ask, "increase (or decrease), measured on what basis?" There are, in fact, two distinct conceptual frameworks through which one can assess the impact of foreign bank entry. One is concerned with measuring the short-run impacts of foreign entry on credit abundance, pricing, and observable stability using reduced form regressions. The other is an institutional economics conception of how to measure performance. It is focused on understanding whether foreign entry gave rise to difficult-to-reverse changes in the political economy of bank regulation, which will affect competition and stability in the long-term, outside the period that may be observed empirically. We employ both conceptions in this paper.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 13-062, January 2013

No Taxation without Information: Deterrence and Self-Enforcement in the Value Added Tax

Pomeranz, Dina
January 2013

Tax evasion generates billions of dollars of losses in government revenue and creates large distortions, especially in developing countries. A growing, mostly theoretical literature argues that information flows are central to understanding effective taxation. This paper analyzes the role of information for tax enforcement in the case of the Value Added Tax (VAT) through two randomized field experiments with over 400,000 Chilean firms. Claims that the VAT facilitates tax enforcement by generating a paper trail on transactions between firms have led to widespread VAT adoption worldwide, but there is surprisingly little evidence. I find that the paper trail acts as a substitute to a firm's own audit risk. A message announcing increased tax enforcement has a much smaller effect on reporting of transactions that are already covered by a paper trail. A second experiment shows that the paper trail leads to spillovers that create important multiplier effects in tax enforcement. The impact of a random audit announcement is transmitted up the VAT chain, increasing compliance by firms' suppliers. These findings confirm that when evasion is taken into account, significant differences emerge between taxes that are equivalent in standard models but generate different information on taxable transactions.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 13-057, December 2012

2012

Epistemic Contests and the Legitimacy of the World Trade Organization: The Brazil-USA Cotton Dispute and the Incremental Balancing of Interests

Daemmrich, Arthur A.
August 2012

The World Trade Organization (WTO) features prominently in studies of international institutions, often cast either as a tool of rich-world domination over the poorer South or as a neutral mediator facilitating a tariff-free world of economic prosperity. This article instead analyses how the WTO has sought legitimacy for itself and for the underlying institution of free trade in the midst of questions regarding its organizational mandate and management of international trade negotiations. Historically, legitimacy for GATT and later the WTO was understood to derive from expanding membership and success at major trade round negotiations. In the past decade, and despite a lack of progress in the Doha Round, legitimacy has been built through institutional deepening by means of dispute resolution processes. This shift, I argue, raises epistemic questions of expertise, the relationship of models to real-world outcomes, and methods for bounding disputes over scientific facts. Based on a case study of the Brazil-Upland Cotton dispute and a trend analysis of over 400 total WTO disputes, I find that the WTO dispute settlement process is helping to legitimize the institution of free trade through its public display of rational authority and neutral expertise. At the same time, dispute panels have begun to pass judgment on issues of econometric and scientific uncertainty. As a result, the basis for the broader legitimacy of the WTO is shifting from questions of representation that have long drawn attention to epistemic issues, especially concerning the design of international trade models. The article thus provides insights on the resolution of disputes in global trade while contributing to our understanding of the evolving role of modeling at international organizations

Trade, Law and Development (summer 2012): 200-240

The Growth Opportunity That Lies Next Door

Jones, Geoffrey
July 2012

This article uses the case of Natura, the largest Brazilian beauty company and one of the world's top twenty beauty companies, to explore how the logic of globalization is changing for corporations from emerging countries as growth opportunities in those countries outpace those in developed markets. For 30 years Natura attempted to move, with mixed results, into developed markets even as the opportunities of its region have grown stronger and stronger. Ultimately Natura has moved beyond stereotypes of globalization, recognizing that winning in Argentina, Chile, and Mexico can be an entry onto the world stage every bit as effective as conquering Paris or New York.

Harvard Business Review 90, nos. 7-8 (July-August 2012): 141-145

Mexico's Financial Crisis of 1994-1995

Musacchio, Aldo
May 2012

This paper explains the causes leading to the Mexican crisis of 1994-1995 (known as "The Tequila Crisis"), and its short- and long-term consequences. It argues that excessive enthusiasm on the part of foreign investors, not based on Mexico's fundamentals, and weak regulation of the banking system built the vulnerabilities that left Mexico exposed to a sudden change in investor appetite for Mexican securities in 1994. Political violence in Mexico and changes in monetary policy in the United States then led to radical changes in investor perceptions of the future of the country and to a balance of payments and banking crisis. The paper then explains how the crisis unraveled and describes the U.S. bailout of the Mexican government in 1995. Since the exchange rate crisis of December of 1994 then translated into a banking crisis in 1995, the chapter ends examining the subsequent development of the Mexican banking system.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 12-101, May 2012

In Search of the Hybrid Ideal

Battilana, Julie, Matthew Lee, John Walker, and Cheryl Dorsey
May 2012

No abstract available

Stanford Social Innovation Review, Summer 2012

Creating a Venture Ecosystem in Brazil: FINEP's INOVAR Project

Leamon, Ann, and Josh Lerner
May 2012

No abstract available

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 12-099, May 2012

Teamwork on the Fly

Edmondson, Amy C.
April 2012

In a fast-paced and ever-changing business environment, traditional teams aren't always practical. Instead, companies increasingly employ teaming: gathering experts in temporary groups to solve problems they may be encountering for the first and only time. This flexible approach was essential to the completion of the Water Cube, the building that hosted swimming and diving events during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and to the 2010 rescue of 33 Chilean miners. More and more people in nearly every industry now work on teams that vary in duration and have constantly shifting membership. Teaming presents technical and interpersonal challenges: people must get up to speed quickly on new topics and learn to work with others from different functions, divisions, and cultures. Several project management principles-scoping out the challenge, structuring the boundaries, and sorting tasks for execution-help leaders facilitate effective teaming. Leaders can also foster cross-boundary collaboration by emphasizing purpose, building psychological safety, and embracing failure and conflict. Individuals who learn to team well acquire knowledge, skills, and networks. Organizations learn to solve complex, cross-disciplinary problems, build stronger and more unified cultures, deliver a wide variety of products and services, and anticipate and manage unexpected events. Teaming helps companies and individuals execute and learn at the same time.

Harvard Business Review 90, no. 4 (April 2012)

Clear and Present Danger: Planning and New Venture Survival Amid Political and Civil Violence

Hiatt, Shon, and Wesley Sine
April 2012

Although entrepreneurs constitute a key economic driving force for many emerging economies, they often face unstable environments due to the failure of governments to maintain civil and political order. Yet, we know very little about how environments characterized by weak institutions and high levels of political and civil violence directly affect new venture survival. Moreover, it is unclear whether standard theories about organizational strategy, such as planning, hold true in such environments. Building upon the institution-based view of strategy and past research on planning, we explore these issues using a sample of 730 new ventures in Colombia from 1997 to 2001. We find that political and civil violence decreases firm survival, increases the benefits of incremental planning, and decreases the benefits of comprehensive planning.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 12-086, March 2012

Investment versus Propaganda in the Formation of Beliefs about the Argentine Water Privatization

Di Tella, Rafael, Sebastian Galiani, and Ernesto Schargrodsky
March 2012

Argentina privatized most public utilities during the 1990s but re-nationalized the main water company in 2006. We study beliefs about the benefits of the privatization of water services amongst low- and middle-income groups immediately after the 2006 nationalization. Negative opinions about the privatization prevail. These are particularly strong amongst households that did not benefit from the privatization and amongst households that were reminded of the government's negative views about the privatization. A person's beliefs in the benefits of the water privatization were almost 30% more negative (relative to other privatizations) if his/her household did not gain access to water after the privatization. Similarly, a person's view of the water privatization (relative to other privatizations) was 16% more negative if he/she was read a vignette with some of the negative statements about the water privatization that Argentina's president expressed during the nationalization process. Interestingly, the effect of the vignette on households that gained water is insignificant, while it is largest (and significant) amongst households that did not gain water during the privatization. This suggests that propaganda was persuasive when it had a basis in reality.

Journal of Public Economics

Foreign Entry and the Mexican Banking System, 1997-2007

Haber, Stephen, and Aldo Musacchio
March 2012

What is the impact of foreign bank entry on the pricing and availability of credit in developing economies? The Mexican banking system provides a quasi-experiment to address this question because in 1997 the Mexican government radically changed the laws governing the foreign ownership of banks: the foreign market share therefore increased five-fold between 1997 and 2007. We construct and analyze a panel of Mexican bank financial data covering this period and find no evidence that foreign entry increases the availability of credit. We also find that switching from domestic to foreign ownership is associated with a decrease in non-performing loans and an increase in interest rate spreads, suggesting that foreign concerns bought domestic banks that had been making loans with low interest rates to parties that had a low probability of repayment.

Economia

Big BRICs, Weak Foundations: The Beginning of Public Elementary Education in Brazil, Russia, India, and China.

Chaudhary, Latika, Aldo Musacchio, Steven Nafziger, and Se Yan
February 2012

Our paper provides a comparative perspective on the development of public primary education in four of the largest developing economies circa 1910: Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC). These four countries encompassed more than 50% of the world's population in 1910, but remarkably few of their citizens attended any school by the early 20th century. We present new, comparable data on school inputs and outputs for BRIC drawn from contemporary surveys and government documents. Recent studies emphasize the importance of political decentralization and relatively broad political voice for the early spread of public primary education in developed economies. We identify the former and the lack of the latter to be important in the context of BRIC, but we also outline how other factors such as factor endowments, colonialism, serfdom, and, especially, the characteristics of the political and economic elite help explain the low achievement levels of these four countries and the incredible amount of heterogeneity within each of them.

NBER Working Paper Working Paper Series, No. 17852, February 2012

When One Business Model Isn't Enough

Casadesus-Masanell, Ramon, and Jorge Tarziján
January 2012

Trying to operate two business models at once often causes strategic failure. Yet LAN Airlines, a Chilean carrier, runs three models successfully. Casadesus-Masanell, of Harvard Business School, and Tarziján, of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, explore how LAN has integrated a full-service international passenger model with a premium air-cargo business model while separately operating a no-frills passenger model for domestic flights. LAN's multi-model success comes from recognizing the complementarity of its two high-end services and the distinct, or substitute, nature of its no-frills offering. LAN came to that insight by analyzing the major assets that the models share and the compatibility of the models' operational resources and capabilities. It recognized that the more the models have in common, the more likely they are to generate greater value together than apart; the less they share, the more likely they are to be best executed separately. Nevertheless, managing multiple models is a tall order. LAN has had to face greater complexity, broaden its organizational skills, increase the flexibility of its workforce, and make other investments. But by mastering three models, the company has built formidable advantages that are difficult for competitors to overcome. Its example has shown how, properly applied, the implementation of multiple business models is not a risk but rather a new tool for strategists.

Journal of Industrial Economics

2011

The Evolving Basis for Legitimacy of the World Trade Organization: Dispute Settlement and the Rebalancing of Global Interests

Daemmrich, Arthur
December 2011

The World Trade Organization (WTO) features prominently in studies of international institutions, although it is often over-simplified either as a tool of rich world domination over the global South or as the only stop-gap preventing a breakdown in the international system. This article analyzes how the WTO has sought legitimacy for itself and for the underlying institution of free trade in the midst of questions regarding its organizational mandate and the management of international trade negotiations. Initially, legitimacy appeared to derive from an expanding membership and the lowering of tariffs in progressively more categories of goods and services. More recently, legitimacy comes from institutional deepening by means of dispute resolution procedures and rulings by the dispute settlement body. This shift, it is argued, raises foundational questions of expertise, the relationship of models to real-world outcomes, and methods for bounding disputes over scientific and economic facts. Based on a case study of Brazil's interaction with the WTO-especially in a decade-long claim against U.S. cotton subsidies-and a trend analysis of over 400 total WTO disputes, I argue that the WTO dispute process is helping to legitimize the institution of free trade through its public display of rational authority and neutral expertise. At the same time, dispute panels have begun to pass judgment on issues of scientific and econometric uncertainty. As a result, the basis for dispute judgment and the broader legitimacy of the WTO is shifting from questions of representation that have long drawn the attention of critics and WTO leaders to epistemological issues, especially concerning the basis of expertise and the design of econometric models. This article provides insights on the resolution of disputes in global trade while contributing to our understanding of the evolving role of scientific and econometric modeling at international organizations.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 12-041, December 2011

A Darker Side to Decentralized Banks: Market Power and Credit Rationing in SME Lending

Canales, Rodrigo, and Ramana Nanda
September 2011

We use loan-level data to study how the organizational structure of banks impacts small business lending. We find that decentralized banks-where branch managers have greater autonomy over lending decisions-give larger loans to small firms and those with "soft information." However, decentralized banks are also more responsive to their own competitive environment. They are more likely to expand credit when faced with competition but also cherry pick customers and restrict credit when they have market power. This "darker side" to decentralized banks in concentrated markets highlights that the level of local banking competition is key to determining which organizational structure provides better lending terms for small businesses.

Journal of Financial Economics (forthcoming).

Segmenting the Base of the Pyramid

Rangan, V. Kasturi, Michael Chu, and Djorjiji Petkoski
June 2011

The bottom of the economic pyramid is a risky place for business, but decent profits can be made there if companies link their financial success with their constituencies' well-being. To do that effectively, you must understand the nuances of people's daily lives, say Rangan and Chu of Harvard Business School and Petkoski of the World Bank. Start by dividing the base of the pyramid into three segments according to people's earnings and related personal needs: 1) Low income: 1.4 billion people, $3 to $5 a day; 2) Subsistence: 1.6 billion people, $1 to $3 a day; and 3) Extreme poverty: 1 billion people, less than $1 a day. Next, consider the roles of various groups in the value-creation relationship: consumers, coproducers, and clients. Specific strategies work best with people in certain roles and at particular income levels. Success requires appreciating the diversity at the base of the pyramid and the importance of scale in undertaking ventures there. Witness Manila Water's success in the Philippines and Hindustan Unilever's in South Asia. Failure to appreciate those elements can foil base-of-the-pyramid ventures, as Microsoft and Procter & Gamble each discovered.

Harvard Business Review 89, no. 6 (June 2011).

The Empire Struck Back: Sanctions and Compensation in the Mexican Oil Expropriation of 1938

Maurer, Noel
March 2011

The Mexican expropriation of 1938 was the first large-scale non-Communist expropriation of foreign-owned natural resource assets. The literature makes three assertions: the U.S. did not fully back the companies, Mexico did not fully compensate them for the value of their assets, and the oil workers benefited from the expropriation. This paper finds that none of those assertions hold. The companies devised political strategies that maneuvered a reluctant President Roosevelt into supporting their interests, and the Mexican government more than fully compensated them as a result. Neither wages for oil workers nor Mexican government oil revenue rose after the expropriation.

Journal of Economic History

Much Ado About Nothing: Expropriation and Compensation in Peru and Venezuela, 1968-75

Maurer, Noel
March 2011

No abstract available

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 11-097, March 2011.

Big BRICs, Weak Foundations: The Beginning of Public Elementary Education in Brazil, Russia, India, and China, 1880-1930

Chaudhary, Latika, Aldo Musacchio, Steven Nafziger, and Se Yan
February 2011

Our paper provides a comparative perspective on the development of public primary education in four of the largest developing economies circa 1910, BRIC-Brazil, Russia, India, and China. These four countries encompassed almost 50% of the world's population in 1910, but remarkably few of their citizens attended any school in the early 20th century. We present new, comparable data on school inputs and outputs for BRIC that are drawn from a variety of archival and published sources. Similar to recent studies that emphasize the importance of income, political decentralization, and the level of political voice to the spread of primary education in developed economies, we also find these factors to be important in the context of BRIC. We also outline other factors such as local ethnic and religious heterogeneity, the institutional legacies of colonialism and serfdom, and, especially, the characteristics of the political and economic elite that help explain the low achievement levels of these countries and the incredible amount of heterogeneity within each BRIC.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 11-083, February 2011

Government Advertising and Media Coverage of Corruption Scandals

Di Tella, Rafael, and Ignacio Franceschelli
February 2011

We construct measures of the extent to which the four main newspapers in Argentina report government corruption in their front page during the period 1998-2007 and correlate them with government advertising. The correlation is negative. The size is considerable: a one standard deviation increase in monthly government advertising is associated with a reduction in the coverage of the government's corruption scandals by 0.23 of a front page per month, or 18% of a standard deviation in coverage. The results are robust to the inclusion of newspaper, month, newspaper president, and individual-corruption scandal fixed effects as well as newspaper-president specific time trends.

American Economic Journal: Applied Economics

Peronist Beliefs and Interventionist Policies

Di Tella, Rafael, and Juan Dubra
January 2011

We study the logic of Peronist interventionist polices and the beliefs that support them. Instead of a comprehensive approach, we focus on three elements. First, we study beliefs and values about the economic system present in Peron's speeches during the period 1943-1955. Second, we study survey data for the 1990s on the beliefs of Peronist and non- Peronist voters in Argentina and Democrat and Republican voters in the U.S. While income and education suggest that Peronists (in relative terms) look like the American Democrats, their beliefs and values suggest that Peronists are the Argentine equivalent of the Republicans. Third, given that these beliefs are non-standard (for economists) we present a model formalizing some of their key aspects (for example, the idea that there is something more than a material exchange in labor relations).

NBER Working Paper Series, No. 16621, December 2010

Leviathan as a Minority Shareholder: A Study of Equity Purchases by the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES), 1995-2003

Lazzarini, Sergio G., and Aldo Musacchio
January 2011

There is a growing literature comparing the performance of private vs. state-owned companies. Yet, there is little work examining the effects of having the government as a minority shareholder of private companies. We conduct such a study using data for 296 publicly traded corporations in Brazil, looking at the effects of equity purchases by the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) on firm performance between 1995 and 2003. Our fixed-effects regressions show that BNDES's purchases of equity lead to increases in return on assets and investment in fixed assets. Finally, we find that the positive effect of BNDES's equity purchases is reduced when the target firms belong to state-owned and private pyramidal groups. Therefore, we argue that having development banks owning minority stakes can have a positive effect on performance as long as they promote long-term investments and are shielded from governmental interference and potential minority shareholder expropriation.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 11-073, January 2011

Why You Aren't Buying Venezuelan Chocolate

Deshpandé, Rohit
January 2011

The article discusses the "provenance paradox," wherein consumers are unwilling to buy high-quality products from regions not commonly associated with excellence in certain product categories. Venezuelan chocolate maker Chocolates El Rey does little international business because consumers associate premium chocolate more with Belgium or Switzerland than with Venezuela. Companies in this position have difficulty charging prices sufficient to fuel international expansion. The author presents advice on overcoming the paradox but warns it can be a lengthy process.

Harvard Business Review 88, no. 12 (December 2010).

2010

Prosocial Spending and Well-Being: Cross-Cultural Evidence for a Psychological Universal

Aknin, Lara B., Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh, Elizabeth W. Dunn, John F. Helliwell, Robert Biswas-Diener, Imelda Kemeza, Paul Nyende, Claire Ashton-James, Michael I. Norton
October 2010

This research provides the first support for a possible psychological universal: human beings around the world derive emotional benefits from using their financial resources to help others (prosocial spending). Analyzing survey data from 136 countries, we show that prosocial spending is consistently associated with greater happiness. To test for causality, we conduct experiments within two very different countries (Canada and Uganda) and show that spending money on others has a consistent, causal impact on happiness. In contrast to traditional economic thought-which places self-interest as the guiding principle of human motivation-our findings suggest that the reward experienced from helping others may be deeply ingrained in human nature, emerging in diverse cultural and economic contexts.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 11-038, September 2010

Law and Finance c. 1900

Musacchio, Aldo
September 2010

How persistent are the effects of legal institutions adopted or inherited in the distant past? A substantial literature argues that legal origins have persistent effects that explain clear differences in investor protections and financial development around the world today (La Porta et al., 1998, 1999 and passim). This paper examines the persistence of the effects of legal origins by examining new estimates of different indicators of financial development in more than 20 countries in 1900 and 1913. The evidence presented does not yield robust results that can sustain the hypothesis of persistence effects of legal origin, but it is not powerful enough to reject it either. Then the paper examines whether there were systematic differences in the extent of investor protections across countries, since that is the main channel through which legal origin affects financial development, and shows that all the evidence supports the idea of relative convergence in corporate governance practices across legal families circa 1900. The paper concludes that, if the evidence presented is representative, the variation observed in financial development around the world today is likely a product of events of the twentieth century rather than a consequence of long-term (and persistent) differences occasioned by legal traditions.

NBER Working Paper Series, No. 16216, July 2010

Recent Advances in the Empirics of Organizational Economics

Bloom, Nicholas, Raffaella Sadun, and John Van Reenen
September 2010

We present a survey of recent contributions in empirical organizational economics, focusing on management practices and decentralization. Productivity dispersion between firms and countries has motivated the improved measurement of firm organization across industries and countries. There appears to be substantial variation in management practices and decentralization not only between countries, but also especially within countries. Much of the poorer average management quality in countries like Brazil and India seems to result from a long tail of poorly managed firms, which barely exist in the United States. Some stylized facts include the following: (1) competition seems to foster improved management and decentralization; (2) larger firms, skill-intensive plants, and foreign multinationals appear better managed and are more decentralized; (3) firms that are both family owned and managed appear to have worse management and are more centralized; and (4) firms facing an environment of lighter labor market regulations and more human capital specialize relatively more in people management. There is evidence for complementarities between information and communication technology, decentralization, and management, but the relationship is complex, and identification of the productivity effects of organizational practices remains a challenge for future research.

Annual Review of Economics Vol. 2 (2010)

Lawsuits and Empire: On the Enforcement of Sovereign Debt in Latin America

Alfaro, Laura, Noel Maurer, and Faisal Ahmed
March 2010

The re-occurring phenomenon of sovereign default has prompted an enormous theoretical and empirical literature. Most of this research has focused on why countries ever chose to pay their debts (or why private creditors ever expected repayment). The problem originates from the fact that repayment incentives for sovereign debts are minimal since little can be used as collateral and the ability of a court to force a sovereign entity to comply has been extremely limited, especially given the lack of a supranational legal authority capable of enforcing contracts across borders. In this paper we contrast the market reaction to attempts to enforce sovereign debt contracts via U.S. "dollar diplomacy" in Latin America in the pre-World War II period and by legal action in the 1990s and early 2000s. We argue that dollar diplomacy created an effective and credible enforcement regime while legal actions by creditors, conversely, do not appear to have done so.

Law and Contemporary Problems (forthcoming)

Criminal Recidivism after Prison and Electronic Monitoring

Di Tella, Rafael, and Ernesto Schargrodsky
January 2010

We study the re-arrest rates for two groups: individuals formerly in prison and individuals formerly under electronic monitoring (EM). We find that the recidivism rate of former prisoners is 22% while that for those "treated" with electronic monitoring is 13% (40% lower). We convince ourselves that the estimates are causal using peculiarities of the Argentine setting. For example, we have almost as much information as the judges have when deciding on the allocation of EM-the program is rationed to only some offenders-and some institutional features (such as bad prison conditions) convert ideological differences across judges (to which detainees are randomly matched) into very large differences in the allocation of electronic monitoring.

NBER Working Paper Series, No. 15602, December 2009.

Assess, Don't Assume, Part II: Negotiating Implications of Cross-Border Differences in Decision Making, Governance, and Political Economy

Sebenius, James K.
January 2010

When facing a negotiation that crosses national borders and/or cultures, the standard preparatory assessments-of the parties, their interests, their no-deal options, opportunities for and barriers to creating and claiming value, the most promising sequence and process design, etc.-should be informed and modified by potentially relevant factors. Drawing on considerable literature in cross-border and cross-cultural negotiation, a two-paper series develops a four-level prescriptive framework for effectively carrying out such assessments. The first paper in this series ("Etiquette and National Culture in Negotiation") described 1) common expectations for surface behavior, and 2) some implications of deeper cultural characteristics for the negotiation process itself, as well as cross-border caveats such as stereotyping and overemphasizing national culture to the exclusion of other factors. The current paper carries this analysis further by systematically analyzing a third and fourth class of factors that often prove critical in cross-border dealmaking: 3. The decision-making and governance processes that are the targets of influence efforts. While negotiations take place with individuals, those individuals are typically enmeshed in organizational processes and cultures. Thus, a key assessment focuses on the organization's decision-making and governance processes. Several questions guide this analysis: Who has what decision rights? Is it a one-person authoritarian process? A simple consensus? A multi-stage consensus process? A key subgroup? How does the formal decision-making and governance process differ from the informal one? 4. The broader economic and political context for negotiation as well as salient "comparable" deals. Several questions guide this analysis: Is there a formal or informal government policy toward the kind of arrangements under negotiation such as the requirement that the majority of a joint venture be owned by a local partner? Are high-tech deals particularly sought after by the state? What recent deals by others, successful or not, will be salient in the minds of your local hosts and authorities when they contemplate yours? Does the political ethos favor state control or privatization? Does a wrenching political transition foster managerial uncertainty and decision paralysis? And so on.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 10-050, December 2009

Endowments, Fiscal Federalism, and the Cost of Capital for States: Evidence from Brazil, 1891-1930

Martínez-Fritscher, André, and Aldo Musacchio
January 2010

There is a large amount of literature that aims to explain what determines country risk (defined as the difference between the yield of a sovereign's bonds and the risk-free rate). In this paper, we contribute to the discussion by arguing that an important explanatory factor is the impact that commodities have on the government's capacity to pay. We use a newly created database with state-level fiscal and risk premium data for Brazil states between 1891 and 1930 to show that in Brazilian states that exported commodities that were in high in demand (e.g., rubber and coffee) the state governments ended up having higher tax revenues per capita and, thus, lower cost of capital. We also explain that the variation in revenues per capita was both a product of the variation in natural endowments and a commodity boom that had asymmetric effects among states. These two effects generated variation in revenues per capita at the state level thanks to the extreme form of fiscal decentralization that the Brazilian government adopted in the Constitution of 1891, which gave states the sole right to tax exports. We also use indices of export prices for each state as instruments for revenues per capita. Our instrumental variable estimates confirm our results that states with commodities that had higher price increases had lower risk premia.

Financial History Review (forthcoming)

2009

Endowments, Fiscal Federalism, and the Cost of Capital for States: Evidence from Brazil, 1891-1930

Martínez Fritscher, André C., and Aldo Musacchio
October 2009

There is a large amount of literature that aims to explain what determines country risk (defined as the difference between the yield of a sovereign's bonds and the risk-free rate). In this paper, we contribute to the discussion by arguing that an important explanatory factor is the impact that commodities have on the capacity to pay. We use a newly created database with state-level fiscal and risk premium data for Brazil states between 1891 and 1930 to show that Brazilian states with natural endowments that were allowed to export commodities high in demand (e.g., rubber and coffee) ended up having higher revenues per capita and, thus, lower cost of capital. We also explain that the variation in revenues per capita was both a product of the variation in natural endowments (i.e., the fact that states cannot produce any commodity they want) and a commodity boom that had asymmetric effects among states. These two effects generated variation in revenues per capita at the state level thanks to the extreme form of fiscal decentralization that the Brazilian government adopted in the Constitution of 1891, which gave states the sole right to tax exports. We end by running instrumental variable estimates using indices of export prices for each state to instrument for revenues per capita. Our instrumental variable estimates confirm our results that states with commodities that had higher price increases had lower risk premia.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 10-027

Government Advertising and Media Coverage of Corruption Scandals

Di Tella, Rafael, and Ignacio Franceschelli
October 2009

We construct measures of the extent to which the four main newspapers in Argentina report government corruption on their front pages during the period 1998-2007 and correlate them with the extent to which each newspaper is a recipient of government advertising. The correlation is negative. The size is considerable: a one standard deviation increase in monthly government advertising (0.26 million pesos of 2000) is associated with a reduction in the coverage of the government's corruption scandals by almost half of a front page per month, or 37% of a standard deviation in our measure of coverage. The results control for newspaper, month, and individual corruption scandal fixed effects.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 10-029, October 2009;
NBER Working Paper Series, No. 15402, October 2009

Medium Term Business Cycles in Developing Countries

Comin, Diego, Norman Loayza, Farooq Pasha, and Luis Serven
October 2009

We build a two-country asymmetric DSGE model with two features: (1) a product cycle structure determines the range of intermediate goods used to produce new capital in each country and (2) there are investment flow adjustment costs in the developing economy. We calibrate the model to match the Mexico-U.S. trade and FDI flows. The model is able to explain (1) why U.S. shocks have a larger effect on Mexico than in the U.S. and hence why the Mexican economy is more volatile than the U.S.; (2) why U.S. business cycles lead over medium-term fluctuations in Mexico; and (3) why Mexican consumption is not less volatile than output.

American Economic Review

Small and Medium Firm Lending in Mexico: Lessons and Current Issues

Canales, Rodrigo, and Ramana Nanda
July 2009

Mexico is often cited as one of the world's most entrepreneurial countries in terms of the percentage of its population that has started or is in the process of starting a business venture. Yet Mexico does not seem to be very friendly to entrepreneurs, as confirmed by the fact that a large portion of new businesses is created in the informal sector. The authors identify the main obstacle to this area as the country's insufficient access to credit for small entrepreneurs. The chapter is devoted to assessing recent programs adopted in Mexico to foster SME competitiveness (including programs to increase capital availability) and draws some important conclusions for policymakers in their efforts to improve the micro-components of national competitiveness.

Mexico Competitiveness Report 2009

The Return of State-Owned Enterprises: Should We Be Afraid

Musacchio, Aldo, and Francisco Flores-Macias
July 2009

The global financial crisis of 2008-2009 has prompted many industrialized states worldwide to increase their stakes in private corporations. This wave of partial nationalizations has come amidst full-scale expropriations in developing countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Does this signal a return of "state capitalism"? If so, what should we expect of the state-owned enterprises (SOEs) that spring back into economic life? Should we be afraid that this return to state capitalism will bring back the practices of the large, inefficient SOEs that countries privatized during the 1980s and 1990s? From a look at the popular press, one certainly gets the impression that there is a return of "state capitalism," as if state intervention in industrial activity actually went away for a significant period of time. Moreover, many observers of the recent wave of nationalizations and government-backed bank capitalizations are afraid that a return to the wasteful state-owned enterprises of the past is imminent. In this essay we propose two alternative views. First, we stress the resilience of state-owned enterprises, which have been around for more than one hundred years in the world's capitalist economies. In fact, state interventions similar to those of today were seen in the pre-World War I period, an era known by some economic historians as "the first big wave of globalization." Second, we argue that there is no reason to believe that the SOEs of the twenty-first century will be as inefficient as those of the 1970s and 1980s. The world has changed much since former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher first began implementing large-scale privatizations. In fact, we document some cases of present-day competitive SOEs and explain some of the conditions that made them efficient, even in comparison to their private counterparts. We do not argue that all SOEs are efficient or that it is optimal to have government ownership of banks and other companies. What we aim to show is that the return of state capitalism is likely to be different this time since, we believe, the environment is different and many SOEs have learned the lessons of the past.

Harvard International Review (March 2009)

The Geography of Trade in Online Transactions: Evidence from eBay and MercadoLibre

Hortacsu, Ali, Francisco de Asís Martínez-Jerez, and Jason Douglas
April 2009

We analyze geographic patterns of trade between individuals using transactions data from eBay and MercadoLibre, two large online auction sites. We find that distance continues to be an important deterrent to trade between geographically separated buyers and sellers, though to a lesser extent than has been observed in studies of non-Internet commerce between business counterparties. We also find a strong "home bias" for trading with counterparties located in the same city. Further analyses suggest that location-specific goods such as opera tickets, cultural factors, and the possibility of direct contract enforcement in case of breach may be the main reasons behind the same-city bias.

American Economic Journal: Microeconomics 1, no. 1 (February 2009): 53-74

What T. R. Took: The Economic Impact of the Panama Canal, 1903-1937

Mauer, Noel, Carlos Yu
March 2009

The Panama Canal was one of the largest public investments of its time. In the first decade of its operation, the canal produced significant social returns for the United States. Most of these returns were due to the transportation of petroleum from California to the East Coast. The United States also succeeded in leveraging the threat of military force to obtain a much better deal from the Panamanian government than it could have negotiated otherwise.

Journal of Economic History 68, no. 3 (September 2008)

When Does Domestic Saving Matter for Economic Growth? (pdf)

Comin, Diego, Philippe Aghion, Peter Howitt, and Isabel Tecu
January 2009

Can a country grow faster by saving more? We address this question both theoretically and empirically. In our theoretical model, growth results from innovations that allow local sectors to catch up with frontier technology. In poor countries, catching up requires the cooperation of a foreign investor who is familiar with the frontier technology and a domestic entrepreneur who is familiar with local conditions. In such a country, domestic saving matters for innovation, and therefore growth, because it enables the local entrepreneur to put equity into this cooperative venture, which mitigates an agency problem that would otherwise deter the foreign investor from participating. In rich countries, domestic entrepreneurs are already familiar with frontier technology and therefore do not need to attract foreign investment to innovate, so domestic saving does not matter for growth. A cross-country regression shows that lagged savings is positively associated with productivity growth in poor countries but not in rich countries. The same result is found when the regression is run on data generated by a calibrated version of our theoretical model.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 09-080, January 2009

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2008

Is There a Better Commitment Mechanism than Cross-Listings for Emerging Economy Firms? Evidence from Mexico

Siegel, Jordan I.
December 2008

The last decade of work in corporate governance has shown that weak legal institutions at the country level hinder firms in emerging economies from accessing finance and technology affordably. To attract outside resources, these firms must often use external commitments for repayment. Research suggests that a common commitment mechanism is to borrow U.S. securities laws, which involves listing the emerging economy firm's shares on a U.S. exchange. This paper uses a quasi-natural experiment from Mexico to examine the conditions under which forming a strategic alliance with a foreign multinational firm is actually a superior mechanism for ensuring good corporate governance.

Journal of International Business Studies (forthcoming).

Reality versus Propaganda in the Formation of Beliefs about Privatization

Di Tella, Rafael, Sebastian Galiani, and Ernesto Schargrodsko
November 2008

Argentina privatized most public utilities during the 1990s but re-nationalized the main water company in 2006. We study beliefs about the benefits of the privatization of water services amongst low and middle-income groups immediately after the 2006 nationalization. Negative opinions about the privatization prevail. These are particularly strong amongst households that did not benefit from the privatization and amongst households that were reminded of the government's negative views about the privatization. A person's beliefs of the benefits of the water privatization were almost 30% more negative (relative to other privatizations) if his/her household did not gain access to water after the privatization. Similarly, a person's view of the water privatization (relative to other privatizations) was 16% more negative if he/she was read a vignette with some of the negative statements about the water privatization that Argentina's President expressed during the nationalization process. Interestingly, the effect of the vignette on households that gained water is insignificant, while it is largest (and significant) amongst households that did not gain water during the privatization. This suggests that propaganda was persuasive when it had a basis on reality.

NBER Working Paper Series, No. 14483, November 2008

Laws versus Contracts: Legal Origins, Shareholder Protections, and Ownership Concentration in Brazil, 1890-1950

Musacchio, Aldo
November 2008

This article examines some of the institutional conditions that facilitated the development of equity markets in Brazil. A critical factor was the addition of protections for investors to corporate bylaws, which enabled relatively large corporations in Brazil to attract investors in large numbers. By availing themselves of this strategy, the firms generated a relatively low concentration of ownership before 1910. Archival evidence, such as company statutes and shareholder lists, reveals that the addition of voting rights to their bylaws, particularly maximum vote provisions and graduated voting scales (which stipulated that less-than-proportional votes increase in parallel with shareholdings), allowed many Brazilian corporations to balance the relative voting power of their small and large investors. In companies that made such arrangements, the concentration of ownership and control was sharply lower than in the average company. Judging by the Brazilian companies examined for this article, it also appears that the concentration of control was significantly lower before 1910 than it is today.

Business History Review 82, no. 3 (fall 2008)

Credit-reporting Agencies in Argentina: A Historical Exploration of Information Sharing Mechanisms in Credit Markets, 1892-c.1935

Lluch, Andrea M.
July 2008

During the last decades, economic theory has devoted considerable attention to the role of information asymmetry in credit markets and problems connected with this phenomenon. However, institutional aspects-particularly, how information is gathered and shared-have not been studied as thoroughly. Only recently has research been conducted on the origins of credit-reporting agencies and on the different responses lenders designed to minimize the impact of information asymmetries. As far as Latin America is concerned, there is no previous historical research available. In that sense, this paper aims to depict some of the mechanisms used within the Argentine business community at the beginning of the twentieth century to generate and disclose information about borrowers, with particular emphasis on Argentina's first credit-reporting agencies.

Investigaciones de Historia Económica (forthcoming)

Bank Structure and the Terms of Lending to Small Businesses (pdf)

Canales, Rodrigo and Ramana Nanda
June 2008

Using loan-level data from Mexico, we study the relationship between the organizational structure of banks and the terms of lending to small businesses. We find that banks with decentralized lending structures-where branch managers have autonomy over the terms of lending-give larger loans to small firms and those with more "soft information"-particularly in states with weak legal enforcement of financial contracts. However, decentralized banks are also more responsive to the competitive environment when setting loan terms. They are more likely to restrict credit and to charge higher interest rates when they have market power, more so to smaller firms that have fewer outside options for external finance. These findings highlight a "darker side" to decentralized banks and suggest that the relative benefit of a decentralized bank structure for small business lending depends critically on the nature of the competitive environment in which banks are located.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 08-101, June 2008

Political Instability and Untimely Dissolution: Partnerships, Corporations, and the Mexican Revolution, 1910-1929 (pdf)

Musacchio, Aldo, Aurora Gómez-Galvarriato, and Rodrigo Parral
May 2008


Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 08-092, April 2008

Synchronicity and Firm Interlocks in an Emerging Market

Khanna, Tarun, and Catherine Thomas
April 2008

Stock price synchronicity has been attributed to poor corporate governance and a lack of firm-level transparency. This paper investigates the association between different kinds of firm interlocks, control groups, and synchronicity in Chile. A unique data set containing equity cross holdings, common individual owners, and director interlocks is used to map out firm ties and control groups in the economy. While there is a correlation between synchronicity and shared ownership and equity ties, synchronicity is more strongly correlated with inter-locking directorates. The presence of shared directors is associated with either reduced firm-level transparency or increased correlation in firm fundamentals, for example, due to joint resource allocation within the group. In this way, the results are consistent with models where firm interlocks facilitate coordination across firms and are also consistent with models where relationships affect capital allocation.

Journal of Financial Economics (forthcoming)

Bank Accounting Standards in Mexico. A Layman's Guide to Changes 10 Years after the 1995 Bank Crisis(pdf)

Del Angel, Gustavo A., Stephen Haber, and Aldo Musacchio
April 2008

After the 1995 crisis, the Mexican banking system experienced significant changes in bank accounting standards. Most of these changes took place between 1996 and 2001, and had a significant impact in the structure and interpretation of financial information of banks. This document explains the major changes on bank accounting, their purpose and structure, and discusses their impact on financial information reported by Mexican banks. It also provides the English equivalent of the major accounting terms used by Mexican banks. The main purpose of this document is to provide a standardized guide to better understand financial information produced before and after the crisis, within the current context of internationalization of Mexican banks' ownership.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 08-090, April 2008

Cost Reductions, Cost Padding and Stock Market Prices: The Chilean Experience with Price Cap Regulation

Di Tella, Rafael, and Alexander Dyck
February 2008

We study the Chilean electricity distribution industry and find that costs (the ratio of reported costs to revenues) have fallen since price caps were introduced. Cost reductions are U-shaped since 1989: Strong initial cost reductions reverse every four years, coinciding with regulatory reviews. A possible explanation is that firms are behaving strategically. We then use stock market data to complement our study. We construct a measure of cumulative abnormal returns for regulated firms around their quarterly announcements, and a measure of "naive" cost expectations which excludes any indication of the occurrence of review periods. In general, cost reports in excess of naive cost expectations have a negative effect on returns, even after we control for company fixed effects. The exception is cost "surprises" that happen during review periods, which increase abnormal returns. The estimated effects fall over time. This is consistent with the hypothesis of strategic firms and that the regulatory regime translates these "games" into higher rates in a way that is not completely anticipated by the market. More generally, the results suggest there may be value in complementing regulatory procedures with stock market information.

Economia (forthcoming)

Learning Processes in Environmental Policy Making and Implementation

Ebrahim, Alnoor S.
February 2008

This paper explores how "learning" occurs in the context of environmental policy formulation and implementation. Rather than viewing policy learning as a rational and technocratic process, the emphasis here is on the political and institutional contexts within which opportunities for policy learning emerge. In particular, opportunities for policy learning are examined with respect to (a) agenda or priority-setting on environmental issues, (b) stakeholder access and representation in policy formulation, and (c) accountability in implementation. Examples are drawn from the experiences of South Africa and Brazil. Several preliminary factors are identified that may enhance policy learning, while acknowledging the constraints of bounded rationality and relationships of power.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 08-071, February 2008

Crime and Beliefs: Evidence from Latin America

Di Tella, Rafael, Javier Donna, and Robert MacCulloch
February 2008


Economics Letters (forthcoming)

Laws vs. Contracts: Legal Origins, Shareholder Protections, and Ownership Concentration in Brazil, 1890-1950 (pdf)

Musacchio, Aldo
January 2008

The early development of large multidivisional corporations in Latin America required much more than capable managers, new technologies, and large markets. Behind such corporations was a market for capital in which entrepreneurs had to attract investors to buy either debt or equity. This paper examines the investor protections included in corporate bylaws that enabled corporations in Brazil to attract investors in large numbers, thus generating a relatively low concentration of ownership and control in large firms before 1910. Archival evidence such as company statutes and shareholder lists document that in many Brazilian corporations voting rights provisions, in particular, maximum vote provisions and graduated voting scales (that provided for less than proportional votes as shareholdings increase), balanced the relative voting power of small and large investors. In companies with such provisions the concentration of ownership and control is shown to have been significantly lower than in the average company. Overall, from the sample of Brazilian companies studied it seems like the concentration of control was significantly lower before 1910 than what it is today.

Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 08-053, January 2008

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2007

The Country Effect: Leveraging the Origin of a Brand for the Global Markets (El efecto país: cuándo capitalizar el origen de una marca en los mercados globales)

Deshpandé, Rohit
November 2007

Entre los consumidores más jóvenes, la procedencia de una marca no hace tanta diferencia. De hecho, un estudio reciente de Samsung descubrió que la imagen país no exhibe ningún impacto significativo en la imagen de marca ni en la intención de compra, al menos cuando se trata de una marca establecida. ¿Pero qué pasa cuando la marca es nueva o relativamente desconocida en el mercado? El profesor de Harvard Business School Rohit Deshpandé responde que en esos casos el efecto país puede tener un impacto primario en la evaluación de la marca mientras se vuelve parte integrante de la imagen de marca. Por ello es que existen casos (como los que usa como ejemplo: Lan Airlines, Corona, Café Colombia, SIA, entre otros) en los que una empresa puede ganar acceso a los mercados globales si escoge la forma adecuada de lidiar con su origen: ya sea matizándolo, ocultándolo o realzándolo para crear la imagen con la que desea llegar a los consumidores del mundo. Para afrontar adecuadamente esta decisión, el autor hace cuatro recomendaciones:
• La mejor estrategia de ingreso no es necesariamente la mejor estrategia para el desarrollo de mercado.
• El desarrollo económico de un país no siempre se correlaciona con la etapa de desarrollo del mercado para los productos.
• Conocimiento del marketing (relacionado con el producto) y conocimiento del mercado (relacionado con el territorio) son dos cosas distintas.
• Pocos clientes se benefician del marketing globalizado, pero las empresas de marketing sí lo hacen. Si, como muchas empresas latinoamericanas, su empresa quiere dejar de vender productos de bajo costo y saltar a los productos premium en el mercado global, debe poner atención al afecto país.

Harvard Business Review - America Latina (August 2007): 2-6.

El fin del imperialismo corporativo

C.K. Prahalad y Kenneth Lieberthal Con comentario de Gustavo Herrero

En su búsqueda de crecimiento, las empresas multinacionales no tendrán más alternativa que competir en los grandes mercados emergentes de China, India, Indonesia y Brasil. Aunque todavía es común preguntarse cómo esas empresas cambiarán la vida en esos mercados, sus ejecutivos harían bien en dar vuelta la pregunta y preguntarse cómo esos mercados transformarán a sus multinacionales. Para ser exitosas deberán repensar cada elemento de sus modelos de negocios, sostienen los autores en este influyente artículo de HBR publicado en 1998.

Harvard Business Review - America Latina (November 2007)

Can Civil Law Countries Get Good Institutions? Lessons from the History of Creditor Rights and Bond Markets in Brazil

Musacchio, Aldo
November 2007

Does a legal tradition adopted in the distant past constrain a country's ability to provide the protection that investors need for financial markets to develop? This paper contributes to the literature that studies the connection between law and finance by looking at the relationship between legal origin and the development of bond markets. The paper shows that there is too much variation over time in terms of bond market size, creditor protections, and court enforcement of bond contracts to assume that the adoption of a legal system can constrain future financial development. The paper examines in detail the evolution of bond markets in Brazil, a French civil law country, and provides preliminary results of similar variation for a small cross-section of countries.

Journal of Economic History (forthcoming).

Related Lending and Economic Performance: Evidence from Mexico

Maurer, Noel, and Stephen Haber
October 2007

Related lending, a widespread practice in LDCs, is widely held to encourage bankers to loot their banks at the expense of minority shareholders and depositors. We argue that neither looting nor credit misallocation are necessary outcomes of related lending. On the contrary, related lending often exists as a response to high information and contract enforcement costs. Whether it encourages looting depends on other institutions, particularly those that create incentives to monitor directors. We examine Mexico's banking system, 1888-1913, in which there was widespread related lending. We find little evidence of credit misallocation despite a financial crisis and government-organized rescue.

Journal of Economic History 67, no. 3 (September 2007): 551-581.

Interdisciplinary Research Within a Modified Competing Values Model of Organizational Performance: Results from Brazil

Deshpande, Rohit
August 2007

An interdisciplinary model of firm performance based on a modified and extended Competing Values Model of Organizational Culture combines elements drawn from three different research traditions--organizational culture and climate from organizational behavior, innovativeness from economics, and market orientation from marketing. The model has been used to analyze firm performance in business-to-business markets in a number of countries in the industrial and the industrializing worlds. In general, successful firms are found to be innovative, market oriented, and to have organizational cultures and decision-making climates which are externally oriented. In most countries, there are also identifiable national culture-specific patterns. In this paper, we focus on the inter-relationships among the streams of research upon which the model is built. Using Brazil, previously unstudied in this context, we attempt to identify a structure among the model elements to test hypotheses about (1) the inter-relationships of the explanatory variables, and (2) the relationships of the explanatory variables to each other and to firm performance. We find that the contributing disciplines produce interpretable results, and that performance is improved by achieving good results simultaneously along several inter-related dimensions.

Journal of Global Marketing 20, nos. 2/3 (2007): 5-16

Comercio y Credito Agrario: Un estudio de caso sobre las practicas y logicas crediticias de comerciantes de campana a comienzos del siglo XX en el Territorio Nacional de La Pampa

Lluch, Andrea M.
January 2007

Durante la segunda mitad del siglo XIX y el primer tercio del XX la expansion agraria desempeñó un papel central en la formación del capitalismo argentino. Articulando este proceso se desarrollaron una serie de mecanismos de intermediación, encargados de canalizar la producción de la campaña hacia los puertos además de proveer una serie de insumos, maquinarias, alimentos y financiación a los productores. Los almacenes de ramos generales -surgidos de la adaptación que implicó la reconversión de los anteriores comercios o pulperías- fueron unos de los más significativos empresarios comerciales y desempeñaron múltiples funciones en el proceso de incorporación de las economías locales al mercado internacional. En este artículo se presentan nuestras conclusiones alrededor de los mecanismos crediticios -directos e indirectos-, los costos, prácticas y lógicas halladas en el estudio del ejercicio habilitador de los intermediarios comerciales. Para avanzar en el análisis de estos temas fue necesario reducir la escala de observación y concentrarse en estudios de caso de empresas dedicadas al ejercicio minorista en áreas rurales.

Bolet­ín del Instituto de Historia Argentina y Americana Doctor Emilio Ravignani 29 (2006)

Normas Contables Bancarias en Mexico

Del Angel, Gustavo, Stephen Haber, and Aldo Musacchio
January 2007

Una guía de los cambios para legos diez años después de la crisis bancaria de 1995.

El Trimestre Economico 73, no. 4 (October/December 2006)

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2006

El Mundo del Fiado. Crédito, Comerciantes y Productores Rurales. 1897-1930

Lluch, Andrea M.
August 2006

Anuario IEHS 20, no. 20 (2006)

Bankers, Industrialists, and their Cliques: Elite Networks in Mexico and Brazil During Early Industrialization (pdf)

Musacchio, Aldo, and Ian Read
May 2006

Enterprise & Society (forthcoming)

Natural Resources, Institutions, and Civil War: Lessons from Mexico

Maurer, Noel
April 2006

A growing literature in economics and political science argues that natural-resource-abundant countries are more likely to be governed by corrupt governments and experience political instability. The experience of Mexico during 1880-1930 casts doubt on this hypothesis. Mexico's mining industry grew rapidly under a very corrupt dictatorship. When that dictatorship fell and the polity lapsed into civil war, the mining industry was barely affected. The Mexican case suggests that extractive industries may be remarkably insensitive to changes in economic institutions or political instability. Causality may run from corrupt government or civil disorder to an economy relatively dependent on natural resource extraction, rather than the other way around.

Harvard Business School Working Paper No. 06-044, 2006

Related Lending and Economic Performance: Evidence from Mexico, 1888-1913 (pdf)

Maurer, Noel
April 2006

There is a consensus among academics and policy makers that related lending, a widespread practice in most LDCs, should be discouraged because it provides a mechanism through which bankers can loot their own banks at the expense of minority shareholders and depositors. We argue that neither looting nor credit misallocation are necessary outcomes of related lending. On the contrary, related lending often exists as a response by bankers to high information and contract enforcement costs. Whether it encourages looting crucially depends on the other institutions that support the banking system, particularly those give depositors and outside shareholders incentives and mechanisms to monitor directors, and that give directors incentives to monitor one another. We operationalize this argument by examining an LDC banking system in which there was widespread related -- Mexico from 1888 to 1913. We find little evidence, during this 25 year period, of tunneling or credit misallocation-even in the midst of a major, externally caused financial crisis that occasioned a government-organized rescue. The banking system was, in fact, remarkably stable and manufacturing enterprises that received related loans performed at least as well as their competitors.

Harvard Business School Working Paper No. 06-045, 2006

Was NAFTA Necessary? Trade Policy and Relative Economic Failure since 1982 (pdf)

Maurer, Noel
April 2006

Mexico signed NAFTA in 1994. NAFTA's primary importance was not in providing market access to the United States. Rather, its primary importance was in providing investor protections to foreign direct investment. NAFTA succeeded in its instrumental goal of increasing foreign direct investment. Increased FDI, however, was limited mostly to manufacturing and has had relatively little impact on the bulk of the economy. Without reforms in the finance and energy sectors, and greater security of property rights for domestic investors, Mexico will be doomed to continuing subpar economic performance.

Harvard Business School Working Paper No. 06-043, 2006

What Roosevelt Took: The Economic Impact of the Panama Canal, 1903-29 (pdf)

Maurer, Noel
April 2006

The Panama Canal was one of the largest public investments of its time. In the first decade of its operation, the Canal produced significant social returns for the United States. Most of these returns were due to the transportation of petroleum from California to the East Coast. Few of these returns, however, accrued to the Panamanian population or government. U.S. policy deliberately operated to minimize the effects of the Canal on the Panamanian economy. The major exception to this policy was the American anti-malarial campaign, which improved health conditions in the port cities.

Harvard Business School Working Paper No. 06-041, 2006

'Plata o Plomo': Bribe and Punishment in a Theory of Political Influence (pdf)

Dal Bó, Ernesto, Pedro Dal Bó, and Rafael Di Tella
February 2006

We present a model where groups attempt to exert influence on policies using both bribes (plata, Spanish for silver) and the threat of punishment (plomo, Spanish for lead). We then use it to make predictions about the quality of a country's public officials and to understand the role of institutions granting politicians with immunity from legal prosecution. The use of punishment lowers the returns from public office and reduces the incentives of high ability citizens to enter public like. Cheaper plomo and more resources subject to official discretion are associated with more frequent corruption and less able politicians. Moreover, the possibility of punishment changes the nature of the influence game, so that even cheaper plata can lower the ability of public officials. Protecting officials from accusations of corruption (immunity) will decrease the frequency of corruption and may increase the quality of politicians if the judiciary is weak. These predictions are the opposite to those emerging from a model where only bribes are used.

American Political Science Review 100, no.1 (February 2006): 41-53

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