Inventory in Times of War
Authors: Andres F. Jola-Sanchez and Juan Camilo Serpa
Publication: Management Science, 67(10):6457-6479
We study how armed conflicts affect inventory across firms’ production facilities. We track 38,916 production facilities—including plantations, livestock farms, and factories—in war-torn Colombian regions; we also collect the data of 5,138 attacks performed by the two rebel groups involved in Colombia’s civil war. To obtain exogenous variation in the conflict intensity, we use a difference-in-differences model that hinges on the peace process between the government and one of the guerrilla groups. We find that when the conflict intensity increases by one order of magnitude, inventory decreases by up to 10.38%. Firms, however, barely reduce finished inventory during war; they mainly reduce raw and work-in-process inventory. To offset this inventory reduction, firms increase their cash holdings—that is, they shift their working capital from physical inventory to liquid assets. The location of the facility moderates the effect of war: when a facility is close to a distribution center—hence, inventory travels short distances—the firm responds to violence by aggressively reducing inventory; when a facility is far from a distribution center, the firm reacts less aggressively to war.
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