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Spiders and snakes: Offshoring and agglomeration in the global economy

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  • Baldwin, Richard
  • Venables, Anthony J.

Abstract

Global production sharing is determined by international cost differences and frictions related to the costs of unbundling stages spatially. The interaction between these forces depends on engineering details of the production process with two extremes being ‘snakes’ and ‘spiders’. Snakes are processes whose sequencing is dictated by engineering; spiders involve the assembly of parts in no particular order. This paper studies spatial unbundling as frictions fall, showing that outcomes are very different for snakes and spiders, even if they share some features. Both snakes and spiders have in common a property that lower frictions produce discontinuous location changes and ‘overshooting’. Parts may move against their comparative costs because of proximity benefits, and further reductions in frictions lead these parts to be ‘reshored’. Predictions for trade volumes and the number of fragmented stages are quite different in the two cases. For spiders, a part crosses borders at most twice; the value of trade increases monotonically as frictions fall, except when the assembler relocates and the direction of parts trade is reversed. For snakes the volume of trade and number of endogenously determined stages is bounded only by the fragmentation of the underlying engineering process, and lower frictions monotonically increase trade volumes.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of International Economics.

Volume (Year): 90 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 245-254

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Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:90:y:2013:i:2:p:245-254

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505552

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Keywords: Fragmentation; Offshoring; Re-shoring; Components; Assembly; Vertical linkages;

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References

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  1. Feenstra, Robert C & Hanson, Gordon H, 1996. "Globalization, Outsourcing, and Wage Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 240-45, May.
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  3. Elhanan Helpman, 2006. "Trade, FDI, and the Organization of Firms," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2118, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Gene M. Grossman & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2008. "Trading Tasks: A Simple Theory of Offshoring," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1978-97, December.
  5. Fujita, Masahisa & Thisse, Jacques-François, 2003. "Globalization and the Evolution of the Supply Chain: Who Gains and Who Loses?," CEPR Discussion Papers 4152, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Venables, Anthony J, 1996. "Equilibrium Locations of Vertically Linked Industries," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 37(2), pages 341-59, May.
  7. Helpman, Elhanan, 1984. "A Simple Theory of International Trade with Multinational Corporations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 451-71, June.
  8. Harrigan, James & Venables, Anthony J., 2006. "Timeliness and agglomeration," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 300-316, March.
  9. David Hummels & Jun Ishii & Kei-Mu Yi, 1999. "The nature and growth of vertical specialization in world trade," Staff Reports 72, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  10. Avinash K. Dixit & Gene M. Grossman, 1981. "Trade and Protection with Multistage Production," NBER Working Papers 0794, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Markusen, James R. & Venables, Anthony J., 2007. "Interacting factor endowments and trade costs: A multi-country, multi-good approach to trade theory," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 333-354, November.
  12. Kei-Mu Yi, 2003. "Can Vertical Specialization Explain the Growth of World Trade?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(1), pages 52-102, February.
  13. Kimura, Fukunari & Takahashi, Yuya & Hayakawa, Kazunobu, 2007. "Fragmentation and parts and components trade: Comparison between East Asia and Europe," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 23-40, February.
  14. Johnson, Robert C. & Noguera, Guillermo, 2012. "Accounting for intermediates: Production sharing and trade in value added," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 224-236.
  15. Vincent Frigant, 2002. "Geographical proximity and supplying relationships in modular production," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(4), pages 742-755, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Pol Antràs & Davin Chor, 2013. "Organizing the Global Value Chain," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(6), pages 2127-2204, November.
  2. Christian Schwarz & Jens Suedekum, 2011. "Global Sourcing of Complex Production Processes," CESifo Working Paper Series 3559, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Arnaud Costinot & Jonathan Vogel & Su Wang, 2011. "An Elementary Theory of Global Supply Chains," NBER Working Papers 16936, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Vincent FRIGANT & Martin ZUMPE, 2014. "Are automotive Global Production Networks becoming more global? Comparison of regional and global integration processes based on auto parts trade data," Cahiers du GREThA 2014-09, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée.
  5. Nowak, Verena & Schwarz, Christian & Suedekum, Jens, 2014. "Asymmetric spiders: Supplier heterogeneity and the organization of firms," DICE Discussion Papers 141, Heinrich‐Heine‐Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
  6. João Amador & Sónia Cabral, 2014. "Global Value Chains: Surveying Drivers, Measures and Impacts," Working Papers w201403, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
  7. Teresa C. Fort, 2013. "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: Why Firms Fragment Production Across Locations," Working Papers 13-35, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  8. Roberto Antonietti & Maria Rosaria Ferrante & Riccardo Leoncini, 2014. "Trust your neighbour. Industrial relatedness, social capital and outsourcing," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1403, Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography, revised Jan 2014.

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