This study is an empirical examination of the impact of business group (BG) affiliation on various measures of firm performance in a transition economy, Russia. The Russian economy provides a unique opportunity for testing of the effects of BG affiliation, which is important for both mature markets and developing economies. A panel sample of around 1000 companies was constructed for the period 1998 to 2001, based on information obtained from a large commercial database, Arnadeus. For the purpose of this study, all firms are divided into two main subgroups: oligarchic business groups (OBGs - economically powerful private business groups with either horizontal or vertical control structures and concentrated ownership in the hands of few individuals) and non-oligarchic firms. A measure for OBGs is created and tested for reliability and validity and a structural model for OBGs is also developed. This measure is then used as a determinant of three major performance measures: profitability, investment and productivity. The results indicate that OBG affiliation is positively but weakly related to firm profitability and productivity. However, the study also finds a redistribution effect of OBGs on their affiliated member firms' profits and debts. This redistribution effect may suggest a stabilization role of BGs in the absence of appropriate market institutions, but might also suggest an opportunistic value transfer. Empirical support for a corporate version of the Laffer curve is also found. That is, relative to their unaffiliated counterparts, OBG affiliated firms have a tendency to outperform their un-affiliated counterparts in terms of taxes paid to state and local budgets, provided that tax rates are lower and tax law enforcement is stronger.
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