Intermittent exporting: unusual business or business as usual?
An analysis of intermittent exporters in the Netherlands, the extent to which they constitute a separate subset of exporting firms and the factors associated with their further development as an exporter.
We construct an empirically supported definition of intermittent and perennial exporting and investigate to what extent intermittent exporters are distinguishable from non-exporters and perennial exporters and which factors explain the switching of export status. Our findings point at a Melitz (2003) type productivity sorting pattern, where perennial exporters are more productive than intermittent exporters which are in turn more productive than non-exporters. However, intermittent exporting seems to be a temporary state for the large majority of the firms, which are, in most cases, on their way to becoming a perennial exporter. The longer it takes to complete this process the slimmer the chances seem to get that the firm succeeds in becoming a perennial exporter. Our results also suggest that in terms of productivity sorting the relatively small group of firms for which intermittent exporting is business as usual most closely resembles perennial exporters. Labor productivity also shows to be an important factor in the process of moving from intermittent exporting to perennial exporting, in addition to trade behavior pointing at integration of the firm in cross-border supply chains. Overall, our empirical findings suggest that firms seem to pass two productivity thresholds before they are able to continuously serve foreign markets; first when breaking into export markets and second when developing into a perennial exporter.