Traditional models of cost behaviors posit a linear correlation between activities and costs. In short run, total costs equal fixed costs plus unit variable costs multiply by the activities volume. Thanks to the model’s ubiquity, it is of considerable interest to examine the validity of this simple specification. Researchers have examined how complexity（Anderson, 1995; Banker, et al., 1990）and congestion（Gupta, et al., 2006）affect the shape of the cost curve. Anderson, Banker and Janakiraman（2003）suggest differential slopes based on whether activities are increasing or decreasing. Because the slope is smaller when activities decrease, costs are said to be sticky. Cost stickiness, or asymmetric cost behaviors, refer to the observation that the cost of an enterprise increases more when the volume of business increases than when the volume of business declines, which reflects enterprise risks under the fluctuation of macro-economic caused by resource redundancy or allocation dislocation. Furthermore, previous studies believe that cost stickiness can be attributed to three reasons, including adjustment costs, management optimistic expectations, and management agency problems （Banker, et al., 2013）. Following the literature of cost stickiness, we explore the determinants of cost behaviors in the context of government subsidies. In this paper, we choose the listed companies in Chinese strategic emerging industries between 2007 and 2016 to explore the effect and the mechanism of government subsidies on the cost stickiness. Drawing on the ABJ（2003）model, it is found that government subsidies have a positive impact on sticky costs, which persists even after the self-selection. Besides, the relationship between government subsidies and cost stickiness is more obvious under the lower financing constraints, and there is no significant change in the continuous decline of operating income. It shows that government subsidies could enhance cost stickiness through management agency problems. There is no evidence to support the viewpoint of adjustment costs and management optimistic expectations. Especially, using cost rate of sales revenue and overinvestment to measure management agency problems, the result of intermediary effects supports the view that government subsidies reinforce cost stickiness through management agency problems. In a further analysis, we compare the impact of government subsidies on cost stickiness in different companies and industries so as to reveal the mechanism. The results show that government subsidies increasing the degree of cost stickiness through management agency problems is mainly reflected in state-owned enterprises. In addition, compared with other strategic emerging industries, owing to local governments’ excessive interference, the enhanced impact of government subsidies on cost stickiness is more significant in the photovoltaic industry. The conclusion not only enriches the theoretical research on factors that influence strategic emerging industries’ cost stickiness, but also provides a new way for the study of government subsidies’ economic consequences.
Do Government Subsidies Reinforce the Cost Stickiness of Strategic Emerging Industries?
Journal of Finance and Economics Vol. 44, Issue 08, pp. 114 - 127 (2018) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.jfe.2018.08.009
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Cite this article
Nan Xiaoli, Zhang Min. Do Government Subsidies Reinforce the Cost Stickiness of Strategic Emerging Industries?[J]. Journal of Finance and Economics, 2018, 44(8): 114-127.
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