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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 124 (2014) 272 281

SIM 2013

Economic determinants of Romanian firms financial performance


Marius Panteaa, Delia Gligorb*, Cecilia Anisc
abx
West University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, J.H. Pestalozzi street no.16, 300115 Timisoara, Romania

Abstract

One of the central questions in entrepreneurship is why some firms succeed and others fail. Determining what factors influence
performance has implications for prospective entrepreneurs, as well as advisors, investors, managers and so forth. Thus, using
extensive data over a period of 14 years, this study explores and tests the sign of the relationship between microeconomic factors
and financial performance. The dataset includes 55 Romanian industrial companies listed at the Bucharest Stock Exchange and
covers the period of 1999-2012. Through a panel data analysis, results indicate that the sign of the relationship is positive and
statistically significant; supporting the importance and independence of the sets of factors in explaining performance.


2014
2014 The Authors. Published
The Authors. Publishedby
byElsevier
ElsevierLtd.
Ltd.Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.
Selection and peer-review
Selection and peer-reviewunder
underresponsibility
responsibilityofofSIM
SIM2013
2013/12th InternationalSymposium
/ 12th International SymposiumininManagement.
Management.

Keywords:firm performance, performance measurement, return on assets, return on equity, microeconomic determinants;

1. Introduction

The topic of performance is a recurrent theme in most branches of management, subjected to numerous debates
in recent years, especially regarding terminology, levels of analysis and assessment. Although the importance of the
performance concept is widely recognized, its treatment in research settings is often lacking since numerous authors
present performance measurement and improvement methods without a clear explanation of what is being measured
or improved.
As such, our research is focused on analyzing the connection between specific economic and organizational
factors and firms performance, taking into account previous national and international studies and their results,
using econometric modeling on data acquired from 55 Romanian companies during a period of 14 years (1999 -
2012).
The originality of our research relies on the informational content of our results and conclusions, taking into
consideration the fact that the proposed topic has been mostly treated from a descriptive point of view in the national

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +4-0256-592-355


E-mail address: delia.gligor@feaa.uvt.ro

1877-0428 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.
Selection and peer-review under responsibility of SIM 2013 / 12th International Symposium in Management.
doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.02.486
Marius Pantea et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 124 (2014) 272 281 273

literature and that the reliable data that our research provides contributes to improving the firms main objective
maximizing shareholders wealth.
The paper is organized as follows: in the next section we will present the literature review concerning the topic of
interest, followed by the conceptual model and hypothesis, methodology and findings while conclusions and future
research paths mark the works ending.

2. Literature review

The literature on performance and its determinants is relatively abundant and concentrated on several aspects:
study of the performance concept definition and its measurement, efficiency and effectiveness analysis and
determinants of firm performance. In this paper we are interested in the last mentioned research direction.
The assessment of performance is an integral component of the management process in any type of company. In
this context, many approaches have been developed, among which, in recent years, productivity and efficiency
analyses as well as different types of profitability ratios have become highly important in the characterization of a
companys performance.
However, although the single output to input ratios, such as returns on investment (ROI) and return on sales may
be used as indices to characterize financial performance, conventional referents of performance, whether they are
measures of profitability, productivity or efficiency, are unsatisfactory discriminates of excellence
(Chakravarthy, 1986), as a companys performance is a complex phenomenon requiring more than a single criterion
to characterize it (Zhu, 2000). In fact, many researchers have conceptualized organizational performance as a
multidimensional design (Lewin and Minton, 1986; Venkatraman and Ramanujam, 1986; Morgan and Piercy, 1998;
Raju and Lonial, 2002) as it covers diverse purposes and types of companies/levels.
The definition of organizational performance is an open question with few studies using consistent definitions
and measures (Kirby, 2005). Performance is very common in management research although its structure and
definition are rarely explicitly justified; instead, its appropriateness, in no matter what form, is unquestionably
assumed (Richard et al., 2009).
In the literature research, performance measurement is defined as the process of quantifying action, where
measurement is the process of quantification and action leads to performance. According to the marketing
perspective, companies achieve their goals and they perform by satisfying their customers with greater efficiency
and effectiveness than their competitors (Kotler, 1984). The terms efficiency and effectiveness are used precisely in
this context, effectiveness is referring to the extension to which customer requirements are met, while efficiency is
the measure of how economically the companys resources are used when providing a given level of customer
satisfaction. This is an important point because it identifies two fundamental dimensions of performance, but also
highlights the fact that there can be internal as well as external reasons for pursuing specific courses of action
(Slack, 1991).
Thus, the level of performance a company attains is a function of the efficiency and effectiveness of the actions it
undertakes (Neely, 1994) and:
x performance measurement can be defined as the process of quantifying the efficiency and effectiveness of an
action;
x a performance measure can be defined as a metric used to quantify the efficiency and/or effectiveness of an
action;
x a performance measurement system can be defined as the set of metrics used to quantify both the efficiency and
effectiveness of actions.
The literature research on the performance measurement system (PMS) design shows the importance and the
complexity of this topic. While many articles debate topics related to the subject, others focus their attention only on
a few selected aspects of the performance measurement system. Very few papers debate this subject in its entirety.
As such, we realized an analysis of relevant articles that cover the performance definition and its measurement,
underlining its evolution in the last years, as shown in table 1.
274 Marius Pantea et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 124 (2014) 272 281

Table 1. Historical evolution of performance measures

Period Performance Author(s) Explanation


measurement
Before The ROI, ROE, Simons ROI most important measure for investors; it is a ratio of the profit output of the business as
1980 ROCE and a percentage of financial investment inputs; ROE - adopt instead the perspective of mangers,
derivates those entrusted by shareholders to generate profit as a ratio of equity; ROCE - a variant which
refers to the assets within a managers direct span of control.
1982 The economic Stern Stewart EVA is a financial management system that provides a common language for employees
value added model & Co across all operating and staff functions and allows all management decisions to be modelled,
(EVA) monitored, communicated and compensated in a single and consistent way, always in terms of
the value added to shareholder investment.
1988 The activity based Cooper and ABC was introduced to address the shortcomings of typical single driver volume based cost
costing (ABC) Kaplan accounting systems. The idea at the base of the model is that all of a companys activities that
exist to support the production and delivery of goods and services should be considered
product costs.
1990 The customer value Customer CVA aims to be a PMS exclusively market-driven, by fixing all performance measures around
analysis (CVA) Value, Inc market parameters. Decision making is based on these measures. The model works together
with tools, such as value-pricing charts, benchmarking analysis, product attributes-score
comparison, priorities chart, etc. The extreme focus on market, the main characteristic of the
model, is also a limiting factor.
1992 The balanced Kaplan and The BSC proposes a holistic view of the organization by integrating four perspectives of
scorecard (BSC) Norton performance: financial, customer, internal business, and innovation and growth. The financial
perspective (shareholder value) is the final aim of the business, even if they recognize the need
to balance with the other three dimensions. The authors stress the importance of identifying
the drivers of performance and emphasize company alignment to strategy through the use of
performance measures.
1994 The service-profit Heskett et al. SPC - has two milestones: frontline workers and customer that are the centre of management
chain (SPC) concern. The authors established a path characterized by cause-effect relations among
profitability, customer loyalty, employee satisfaction and productivity. The framework does
not offer any specific suggestions for implementation.
1997 The integrated Bititci et al. IPMS argue that the performance management process is a closed loop by which the company
performance manages its performance in line with its corporate and functional strategies and objectives.
measurement The framework they developed is composed by five interacting systems, and it is
system (IPMS) characterized by two important elements: integrity and deployment. The first refers to the
ability of the PMS to promote integration among various areas of the business, while the
second-one refers to the deployment of business objectives and policies throughout the
hierarchical structure of the organization. The model recognizes the importance of the external
environment, and it links the different corporate levels using five characteristics perspectives:
stakeholders, control measures, environmental positioning, improvement objectives and
internal performance measures.
1999 The business European BEM is not designed as a performance measurement framework, but it gives several insights
excellence model Foundation that affect performance measurement. The model is based on nine criteria: leadership, policy
(BEM) for Quality and strategy, people, partnerships and resources, processes, customer results, people results,
Management society results and key performance results. The model is a broad management model that
explicitly highlights the enablers of performance improvement and indicates result areas that
need to be measured. The model proposes an assessment based on the concept of different
organizational maturity stages.
2002 The performance Neely PP was developed in order to reflect the characteristics and address the shortcomings of the
prism (PP) frameworks previously developed. The model proposes five interrelated perspectives of
performance: stakeholder satisfaction, stakeholder contribution, strategies, processes and
capabilities. The set of stakeholders considered by the model are: investors, customers,
employees, regulators and suppliers. The model can be applied in the company integrating
both horizontal and hierarchical functions. The authors argue that the framework provides a
balanced picture of the business, highlighting external (stakeholder) and internal (strategy,
Marius Pantea et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 124 (2014) 272 281 275

Period Performance Author(s) Explanation


measurement
process and capability) measures, as well as integrating financial and non-financial measures.
2004 The capability Ratnatunga CEVITA was developed for the Australian Department of Defence. The model argues that it is
economic value of et al. the combination of both tangible and intangible assets that provide an organization a
intangible and capability that ultimately drives its economic value. The model proposes a technique to
tangible assets report these tangible and intangible assets combinations in an organizations financial
model (CEVITA) statements. The model integrates accrual accounting based measures, index based measures
and consensus-based measures, cash flow measure and market-based measures.

The chronological literature review offers a complete study of the performance measurement research field
evolution. The main goal of the analyzed models is to support especially management by helping them to measure
company performance, analyze and improve business operational efficiency through better decision-making
processes.
Concerning the determinants of firm performance, our extensive litterature study revealed that there are two
major streams: one based primarily upon an economic tradition, emphasizing the importance of external market
factors in determining firm success, and another concentrated on the behavioral and sociological paradigm, seeing
organizational factors and their fit with the environment as the major determinants of success. However, little
attention is given to the firm's competitive position as well as factors internal to the firm. In table 2 we presented the
main determinants of firm performance, as indicated in the studied literature.

Table 2. Overview of the determinants of firm performance

Variables Author(s) Determinant(s) of firm performance


Industry variable Ravenscraft (1983), Schmalensee (1985) Growth, concentration, capital intensity,
advertising intensity
Variables relating the firm to its Shepherd and Wiklund (2003) relative market share
competitors
Firm variables Tan and Peng (2003), Peng and Luo (2000) firm size
Organizational variables Ahmada and Schroeder (2003) communication flow, emphasis on human
resources, decision-making practices,
organization of work, job design, goal emphasis
276 Marius Pantea et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 124 (2014) 272 281

Despite the increasing number of scientific work regarding the determinants of a firms performance, there is no
common set of such determinants, remaining an ongoing research issue.

3. Research framework and hypotheses

n order to determine if there is a relationship between specific economic and organizational factors and a firms
performance, we first identified the indicators of firms performance and its determinants, based on the prevoius
literature review.
When adressing the issue of financial performance measursement, the study of the specific literature led us to
observe that measuring financial performance is often considered a simple task; however, complications arise when
choosing the measurement instrument. We identified several instruments (table 1) which can be attributed to various
approaches: market measures (Alexander and Buchholz, 1978; Vance, S. C., 1975), accounting measures (Waddock
and Graves 1997; Cochran and Wood 1984) and even both (McGuire, J.B., Sundgren, A., Schneeweis, T., 1988). All
approaches imply different perspectives and theoretical implications (Hillman and Keim, 2001) and are subjected to
limitations. Nevertheless, the accounting measures (namely ROE and ROA) are widely used due to both availability
of data and stakeholders interest. Thus, according to our researchs goal, we consider that ROE and ROA are the
most relevant financial performance indicators, indicators that will be taken into account in our research.
As for the performance determinants, as shown previously, there are various categories identified, treated mostly
from a descriptive point of view. The most comprehensive study is that of Capon, Farley and Hoening (1990), a
metha-analysis of 320 empirical studies regarding industry, firm and business financial performance. They identified
25 aggregate constructs that affect financial performance, as well as their correlation sense. Of these, the most
representative determinants were:
x Industry concentration, with a positive influence on firm performance;
x Growth in assets and sales, with a positive influence on firm performance;
x Market share, with a positive influence on firm performance;
x Size of firm, with a positive influence on firm performance when measured as volume of sales;
x Capital investment intensity, with a positive influence on firm performance.
With the development of corporate social responsibility (CSR), researchers have started to focus their attention
on the relationship between CSR and financial performance (Margolis and Walsh, 2001). Mostly, results of these
studies have been mixed: negative relationship (Wright and Ferris, 1997), positive relationship (Posnikoff, 1997)
and even no relationship (Teoh et al., 1999). Tsoutsoura (2004) shows that the main cause of these results is related
to CSR measurement problems, testing the sign of the relationship between corporate social responsibility and
financial performance on 422 companies and indicating a positive linkage.
Based on the specific literature findings, presented above, we have developed the following research hypothesis:
H1: There is a correlation between firm size, firm growth, capital intensity, human resources, CSR and
financial performance, measured by ROA and ROE.
Also, taking into account the studies on the linkage sign between performance determinants and financial
performance, underlined previously, we then stated the second hypothesis:
H2: There is a positive correlation between firm size, firm growth, capital intensity, human resources,
CSR and financial performance, measured by ROA and ROE.

4. Methodology and results

4.1. Research methodology

In order to test and validate the researchs hypothesis, we have selected a sample of 55 Romanian companies, the
inclusion criteria targeting their listing on the Bucharest Stock Exchange. The companies have an industrial profile,
from both heavy and light industry. Objections may be made to the inclusion of the two sectors in the same sample
but the argument is that, in the absence of a sufficient amount of data, it is recommended to ensure the greatest
Marius Pantea et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 124 (2014) 272 281 277

possible homogeneity of the data, as well as a large enough sample to preserve the viability of the statistical analysis
results.
The period of time taken into consideration for our analysis covers 14 years (from 1999 to 2012), thus, the
necessary data vas extracted for each company for the indicated period.
The first issue addressed concerned measuring the determined variables, as shown in table 3 below.

Table 3. Variables defining

Variable Coding Measuring Source


Return on assets ROA Net income / Total assets Firm data base
Return on equity ROE Net Income/Shareholder's Equity Firm data base
Firm size D1 The natural logarithm of sales Firm data base
Firm growth D2 The rate of growth of sales Firm data base
Capital intensity D3 Fixed assets share in total assets Firm data base
Human resources D4 Number of employees Firm data base
CSR D5 The CSR measurement index takes values of 0 Extracted from www.responsabilitatesociala.ro
if the firms arent socially responsible and 1 if
they are.

Next, given the nature of our research and of the collected data, we applied an econometric modeling with panel
data, considered the most representative due to the fact that it estimates regression equations and uses series that are
both time series and cross-sectioned data (Greene, 2000).

4.2. Data analysis and interpretation

Using STATA 11, we first realized a descriptive statistic of the seven panel type variables (ROA, ROE, D1, D2,
D3, D4, D5), for the 14 years period of time taken under consideration, with 55 sections, corresponding to the
number of firms included in the sample, presented in table 4 below.

Table 4. Descriptive statistics

Variable Mean Std. Dev. Variance Skewness Kurtosis


D1 378.5 218.3827 47691 0 1.799996
D2 5.73 3.73 1.39 1.79763 2.3294
D3 377.5013 218.3804 47690 0.0000361 1.799946
D4 305.2143 176.009 30979.18 0.0021814 1.848514
D5 0.2592593 0.4385183 0.1922983 1.098701 2.207143
ROA 293.8876 204.9341 41997.99 0.1564782 1.698272
ROE 292.2963 205.7022 42313.4 0.1488421 1.699814
278 Marius Pantea et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 124 (2014) 272 281

Although the variables present a platykurtic kurtosis, most of them are close to the normal distribution and
therefore they can be interpreted in our approach.
We then proceeded to analyze the correlations between each performance determinant explained above and the
performance indicators, applying as a first model the GLS regression with random effects, which considers each
intercept as the result of a random deviation from some mean intercept (formula 1).

yit P  D i  xit E  eit (1)

where:
yit the dependant variable, i=entity, t=time;
- between entity error;
i the unknown intercept for each entity;
xit - independent variable;
- the coefficient for the independent variable;
eit within entity error.

The next model that we applied was the fixed effects model which explores the impact of variables that vary over
time. The equation for the fixed effects model becomes:

yit xit E  D i  uit (2)

Table 5. Analysis results (random effects model and fixed effects model)

The random effects model The fixed effects model


ROA ROE ROA ROE
D1 0.308*** 0.242*** 0.331*** 0.268***
D2 0.518 0.7809 0.458 0.711
D3 0.270*** 0.276*** 0.286*** 0.288***
D4 0.118** 0.092* 0.106** 0.069
D5 0.944 0.532 0.512 0.442
N obs. 756 756 756 756
* p<0.05; ** p<0.01; *** p<0.001
Marius Pantea et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 124 (2014) 272 281 279

In order to decide which model gives the most accurate results considering the type of panel data, we performed a
Hausman test that showed values for Prob>chi2 greater than 0.05 which indicated the use of random effects model.
Thus, considering the two dependant variables, results show that both ROA and ROE are influenced only by the
firms size (D1), its capital intensity (D3) and its human resources (D4), as follows:
x a 1% increase in the value of D1 determines the increase of ROA by 0,308% and of ROE by 0,242%;
x a 1% increase in the value of D3 determines an increase of ROA by 0,270% and of ROE by 0,276%;
x a 1% increase in the value of D4 determines an increase of ROA by 0,118% and of ROE with a slightly
significant impact of only 0,092%.
However, for the determinants firm growth (D2) and CSR (D5), results show that there is no significant impact
upon a firms performance, measured by ROA and ROE.
Overall, the results of the analysis showed that there is a strong positive correlation between a firms size, its
capital intensity and its human resources, observations that partially validate H1 and H2.

5. Conclusions and discussions

Following the results presented above, it can be concluded that there are certain microeconomic determinants that
influence in a positive manner a firms performance, namely, in our case, the firms size, its capital intensity and its
human resources.
Firm size has the most significant impact on performance; especially when measured through ROA, explainable
when considering that as they grow, firms have greater visibility and attract more attention from stakeholders, thus
leading to greater control over resources, promotional opportunities resulting in the attraction and retention of better
employees, net economies of scale and so forth.
Our analysis showed that firm growth (calculated as the rate of sales growth) has no linkage to performance,
contrary to the majority of current studies results. This could be primarily due to the characteristics of the firms
included in our sample: large industrial firms that historically have a lower sales growth rate.
In the case of capital intensity, results revealed a strong correlation with performance given that it indicates a
high degree of automation that enables the firms to reduce costs, errors and loss, positively influencing the selected
performance indicators.
Performance was shown to be influenced to a certain degree by a firms human resources, consistent to the
current research trends that link HR practices to the volume of revenues. Our results show that HR is a valuable
source for firms, in terms of strategic advantages and enhancing financial performance.
The analysis of CSR and performance revealed no significant relationship, which can be due to the CSR
measurement technique employed and the fact that only 22% of the firms included in our sample are socially
responsible. Although other studies have shown that CSR affects a firms performance, our results are insubstantial,
since the majority of our firms do not adopt CSR principles. However, this conclusion cannot be generalized, further
research regarding the linkage of CSR to performance being recommended.
It should be noted that our results are consistent with the findings in the current research (analyzed in the
literature review section) on the positive effects of the analyzed performance indicators, underlining their
importance for a firms stakeholders as the main beneficiaries of information regarding factors affecting financial
performance. Therefore, our results have a significant informational content for a firms decision making factors;
nevertheless, no simple guideline involving just a set of factors is likely to be effective. Furthermore, our results
point towards interactive effects between variables.
Our research focused mainly on analyzing specific microeconomic determinants of a firms performance, the
results implying that the study of performance requires a broader base of explanatory variables. As such, a further
research topic will concentrate on expanding the microeconomic variables and taking into account also the impact of
macroeconomic determinants while enlarging the analyzed sample. Also, another possible research path would be
identifying specific performance determinants for each industrial sector and even other sectors of activity. As we
have observed in the literature review, there are numerous ways to measure performance; therefore, we can focus
our research also on correlating different performance indicators with the specific microeconomic determinants.
280 Marius Pantea et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 124 (2014) 272 281

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