DP17434 Acquisitions, Management, and Efficiency in Rwanda's Coffee Industry
Well-functioning markets allocate assets to owners that improve firms’ management and performance. We study the effects of ownership changes on coffee mills in Rwanda – an industry in which managing relationships with farmers and seasonal workers is important and that has seen many ownership changes in recent years. We combine administrative data, a survey panel of mills and an original survey of acquirers that allows us to construct acquirer-specific and target-specific control groups. A difference-in-differences design reveals that ownership changes do not improve performance unless the mill is acquired by a foreign firm. Our preferred interpretation – supported by detailed survey evidence that considers alternative hypotheses – is that foreign firms successfully implement management changes in key operational areas. Upon acquisition, both domestic and foreign owned mills attempt to implement similar changes, but domestic firms face resistance from workers and farmers. Domestic owners have relationships with their local communities, which can create opportunities to establish new mills and acquire existing ones. However, these same relationships create pressure to maintain status-quo relational arrangements, which makes it harder to implement managerial changes.