Master's degree in International Economics and Business Management

Course partially running (all years except the first)

International industrial policy

Course code
Name of lecturers
Angelo Zago, Vania Licio
Angelo Zago
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
primo semestre magistrali dal Sep 30, 2019 al Dec 20, 2019.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

Departing from traditional theory of international trade based on comparative advantage, in this course we focus on theories of trade based on the firm. Globalization has substantially changed the world economy and the nature of firms. There has been an increase in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). Sub-contracting abroad in now a common practice. A third of total trade is intrafirm. Therefore, by acknowledging that firms - not countries - are involved in trade, recent developments have investigated the decisions to export and invest abroad at the firm level. Globalization has substantially changed the world economy and the nature of businesses. There has been an increase in foreign direct investment (FDI), and a third of international trade is now represented by exchanges between different plants of the same firm. The acquisition of intermediate goods from foreign suppliers is now a common practice. Recognizing that companies - not countries - are involved in international trade, the most recent developments in international trade theory investigate the decisions to export and invest abroad made at the firm level. The aim of the course is therefore to provide the analytical and conceptual tools - both theoretical and empirical - to understand the choices of internationalization of firms, whether they are exporting, importing, or foreign direct investing. The course is taught in English. At the end of the course students will be able to: - understand the economic reasons and the effects of the internationalization choices of firms; - have an overview of the problems inherent in internationalization processes; - read and elaborate critically and autonomously the problems and prospects that characterize the firms engaged in foreign markets both for the production and for the marketing of their products. - Finally, the student will also learn some transferable skills, such as autonomy of judgment and critical sense with respect to the topics they are exposed to, plus written communication skills and the ability to learn autonomously.


In this course we will cover the main models that consider the firms' decisions to export and/or invest abroad; we will discuss how trade choices may affect (and are affected by) the organizational form of firms; we will discuss the evolution of global value chains and the main flows of trade in goods and services. While the focus is on general trends and phenomena, we will also touch on the problems of Italian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) competing in global markets.
- Theory of the firm: Coase, Williamson and the transaction cost theory of the firm. Property rights and the theory of the firm.
The Grossman-Hart model.
Incomplete contracts, specific investments, ownership of the firm.
- Heterogeneous firms and the decision to export. Melitz model. Effects of trade liberalization and reallocation effects.
- Firms and the decision to invest in Foreign Direct Investments. Horizontal FDI.
The Brainard model. Horizontal FDI and heterogenous firms (Yeaple, Melitz and Helpman 2003).

Vertical FDI and country price differences (Helpmand 1984).
- Outsourcing and internazionalization. Monopolistic competition, increasing returns, incomplete contracts (Antràs 2003). Outsourcing and product cycles (Antràs 2004).
- Incomplete contracts and heterogeneous firms (Antràs and Helpman 2003).
- Global Value Chains.
- Empirical estimation of international trade (gravity equations).
During the course, some speakers will intervene:
1. some colleagues coming from foreign universities, who will talk about their research topics:
- Prof. B. McKern (University of Technology Business School, Sydney, AUS), on multinational enterprises, their business models and entry modes into the Chinese market;
- Prof. Y. Ding (School of Economics, Jilin University, China), on product technological content and position in Global Value Chains;
- Prof. G. Chiappini (University of Bordeaux), on the empirical estimation of international trade and gravity equations;
2. some qualified business leaders, to illustrate operational issues of firms engaged in foreign markets.

Slides, case studies, research reports and other teaching material will be provided through the e-learning page of the course.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Martin RICKETTS The Economics of Business Enterprise. An Introduction to Economic Organization and the Theory of the Firm (Edizione 3) Edward Elgar 2002 1 84376 420 2

Assessment methods and criteria

The content and the examination procedures are the same for students attending and not the course. Consistently with the content of lectures, the examination for the course of International Industrial Policy includes: I) a WRITTEN EXAM, in which students are asked to: a) answer some open questions of trade theory and discuss a case, e.g., to comment critically current economic facts related to the course provided during the exam; b) answer some theory questions in a multiple choice format. These two parts together determine the grade for the written exam. II) In addition, students are required to prepare an ESSAY, on a topic chosen by the student, developing an article of about 2000 words that must be handed in at the exam date (printed in front and in the back of white A4 paper, single-spaced, stapled without covers). The essay can be prepared in group, in groups of 3-4 students maximum, where each student has to prepare about 2000 words. The essay may be a critical review of a scientific article; the investigation of a phenomenon through the analysis of data; a discussion of a relevant case-study. III) Finally, during the course students are given the opportunity to prepare a group presentation (with about 4 students per group). For the overall grade, therefore, one can add the following BONUS to the written exam: i) Essay - mandatory. Its assessment is done on a 0-30 scale: if insufficient (<18/30), points -1; if 18-20/30, 0 points; if 21-23/30, 1 point; if 24-26/30, 2 points; if 27-30/30, 3 points. ii) Presentation - for attending students. It entitles to 0-2 points. In summary, the FINAL VOTE therefore includes: 1. the grade obtained in the written exam, 2. a possible bonus for the mandatory essay, 3. a possible bonus for the group ppresentation. All bonuses are valid for the four exam sessions of the academic year 2019-20, that is, until the Autumn 2020 session included. NOTA COVID19 Dear Students due to the Covid19 pandemic, the 2020 summer exam session will be administered online using the Moodle platform, with the ‘Quiz’ and ‘Compito’ tools. The structure of the exam and the type of questions will be as similar as possible to the written test usually administered in the classroom, even if there will be changes in the way you can provide answers to the questions. In particular, the written test will include: - multiple choice questions (without penalties for wrong answers), - 'open' answer questions, which require a brief explanation through a short text, to be written on the PC or on a sheet of paper to be uploaded later through the camera. Given the new online administration of the written test, the possibility of taking an optional oral test may also be provided. However, there are no changes in the rule for determining the final grade.

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