Tolerance for Uncertainty and the Growth of Informationally Opaque Industries
Posted: 30 Jun 2009
Date Written: June 26, 2009
Hofstede (1980)'s cross-country psychological survey of IBM employees finds that some countries (societies) are systematically less tolerant of uncertainty, while uncertainty-tolerance is shown by some theoretic models to be essential to the growth of emerging sectors about which less is known. This paper first uses Durnev, Morck, and Yeung (2004)'s methodology to identify these informationally opaque industries. The hypothesis is then made that countries characterized by high uncertainty aversion (measured by Hofstede's indicator, and two other alternative indicators) will grow disproportionately slower in industrial sectorswhere information is less available. Using the Rajan and Zingales (1998) "difference-in-differences" methodology, which is relatively free from the endogeneity problem, the study provides robust evidence of such an industrial growth pattern in 34 countries and 36 manufacturing industries. It also shows that national uncertainty aversion is not driven by underdevelopment of financial sector, inadaptability of civil law systems, lower level of economic or human capital development, labor market inflexibility, or any of many other institutional factors. The results remain robust when religious (Catholic vs. Protestant) composition is used as an instrumental variable for national uncertainty aversion. The international evidence presented helps explain why some countries are slower in embracing "new" (vs. traditional) industries.
Keywords: Growth, Empirics, Social norm, Information
JEL Classification: O4, D8, Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation