Firms and Global Value Chains: Identifying Firms' Multidimensional Trade Preferences

In Song Kim, Helen V. Milner, Thomas Bernauer, Iain Osgood, Gabriele Spilker, Dustin Tingley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Trade policy has become increasingly multidimensional. Current trade agreements not only address market access but also encompass rules and provisions related to flexibility of commitment, investment protection, and dispute settlement mechanisms. Yet, rigorous evidence about how interest groups evaluate each of these in relation to the others remains scarce. We develop a firm-level theoretical framework to explain how firms' international operations affect their preferences on different trade policy measures. We experimentally evaluate preferences over multiple policy dimensions using a conjoint analysis on firms in Costa Rica. Notably, for many types of firms, the standard trade policy measures of yesteryear - tariffs and subsidies - are no longer their most important concerns. Instead, the degree of firms' involvement in global value chains shapes their preferences. Multinational corporations care most about protection of their foreign investments. Those exporters who are not central to global supply networks most value strong dispute settlement procedures. Finally, we find that preferences over these policy dimensions are more likely to vary by firm than by industry, which calls into question the existing literature's focus on interindustry distinctions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-167
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Studies Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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