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The impact of digital finance development on vertical specialization: evidence from A-share listed companies in China

Xiaofang Jia (School of Economics, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China)
Xingan Wang (School of Economics, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China)

Kybernetes

ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 29 November 2022

48

Abstract

Purpose

This study intends to explore the relationship between digital finance and the vertical specialization of firms. The following questions are discussed: (1) As a representative new financial development model, what is the role of digital finance in the vertical specialization of firms? (2) If digital finance improves the level of vertical specialization of firms, what is the mechanism behind such improvement? (3) How does digital finance impact the vertical specialization of firms in different regions, industries, and firms?

Design/methodology/approach

A two-way fixed-effect model of panel data is proposed to verify the relationship between digital finance and the vertical specialization of firms. This model is constructed by matching the city-level data of digital finance with the data of China's A-share listed companies from 2011 to 2018. Meanwhile, the instrumental variable (IV) method and difference-in-difference (DID) method are adopted to deal with the endogeneity problem of the model.

Findings

The authors' study finds that digital finance has significantly improved the level of vertical specialization of firms. The result is robust under the endogeneity consideration and a series of robustness tests. After the dimensionality of the index is reduced, the depth of digital finance usage is more conducive to the improvement of the vertical specialization of firms compared with the width of digital finance coverage and the level of financial digitization. Digital finance mainly improves the level of vertical specialization of firms by reducing transaction costs and increasing the market thickness of the intermediate products. Moreover, digital finance has certain heterogeneity in promoting the vertical specialization of firms, an effect that is more significant in the eastern region, manufacturing industry and state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

Research limitations/implications

The first limitation is the mechanism test. This research only analyzes the mechanism from transaction cost and the market thickness of the intermediate products. With the rapid development of information technology, digital finance will be further integrated into people's production and life. There will then be more mechanisms that should be explored between digital finance and the vertical specialization of firms. Another limitation is the data sample of this paper. The conclusions of this research are based only on the data of listed companies. However, in the authors' opinion, the specialization level of small and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) should be higher. Therefore, the conclusions of this work are underestimated, which can be considered as the lower limit of digital finance for enterprise specialization.

Social implications

As a favorable financing channel to supplement traditional financial service functions, digital finance plays a critical role in the operating efficiency of enterprises and the effective allocation of macro resources. The authors' research shows that digital finance has significantly improved the vertical specialization of firms. This conclusion provides guides to improve the production efficiency of enterprises and the quality of economic development.

Originality/value

This paper has three main contributions. (1) The relationship between financial development and the vertical specialization of firms is innovatively discussed from the perspective of digital finance, which implies that digital finance can effectively promote the level of vertical specialization of firms. (2) This paper provides new perspectives and ideas to reveal the impact mechanism of digital finance on the real economy by systematically analyzing the mechanism of digital finance on the vertical specialization of firms from the perspectives of transaction costs and financing constraints. (3) The regional differences in the development of digital finance, industry differences in the vertical specialization of firms and differences in the nature of enterprise property rights are all under consideration, which improves the effectiveness and pertinence of digital finance in promoting the vertical specialization of firms.

Keywords

Citation

Jia, X. and Wang, X. (2022), "The impact of digital finance development on vertical specialization: evidence from A-share listed companies in China", Kybernetes, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/K-04-2022-0634

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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