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Contractual Frictions and Global Sourcing

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  • Pol Antràs
  • Elhanan Helpman

Abstract

We generalize the Antras and Helpman (2004) model of the international organization of production in order to accommodate varying degrees of contractual frictions. In particular, we allow the degree of contractibility to vary across inputs and countries. A continuum of firms with heterogeneous productivities decide whether to integrate or outsource the production of intermediate inputs, and from which country to source them. Final-good producers and their suppliers make relationship-specific investments which are only partially contractible, both in an integrated firm and in an arm's-length relationship. We describe equilibria in which firms with different productivity levels choose different ownership structures and supplier locations, and then study the effects of changes in the quality of contractual institutions on the relative prevalence of these organizational forms. Better contracting institutions in the South raise the prevalence of offshoring, but may reduce the relative prevalence of FDI or foreign outsourcing. The impact on the composition of offshoring depends on whether the institutional improvement affects disproportionately the contractibility of a particular input. A key message of the paper is that improvements in the contractibility of inputs controlled by final-good producers have different effects than improvements in the contractibility of inputs controlled by suppliers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12747.

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Date of creation: Dec 2006
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Publication status: published as Helpman, E., D. Marin, and T. Verdier (eds.) The Organization of Firms in a Global Economy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12747

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  1. Oliver Hart & Sanford Grossman, 1985. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Working papers 372, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Hart, Oliver D. & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Scholarly Articles 3448675, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Acemoglu, Daron & Antras, Pol & Helpman, Elhanan, 2007. "Contracts and Technology Adoption," Scholarly Articles 3199063, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Elhanan Helpman, 2006. "Trade, FDI, and the Organization of Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(3), pages 589-630, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Marcella Nicolini, 2007. "Institutions and Offshoring Decision," CESifo Working Paper Series 2074, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Tomiura, Eiichi, 2009. "Foreign versus domestic outsourcing: Firm-level evidence on the role of technology," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 219-226, March.
  3. Li, Ben & Lu, Yi, 2009. "Geographic concentration and vertical disintegration: Evidence from China," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 294-304, May.
  4. Tarun Kabiraj & Uday Bhanu Sinha, 2011. "Strategic Outsourcing with Technology Transfer," Working papers 203, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
  5. Goswami, Arti Grover, 2013. "Vertical FDI versus outsourcing: The role of technology transfer costs," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 1-21.
  6. Wilhelm Kohler, 2007. "The Bazaar Effect, Unbundling of Comparative Advantage, and Migration," CESifo Working Paper Series 1932, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. TOMIURA Eiichi, 2007. "Global Sourcing, Technology, and Factor Intensity: Firm-level Relationships," Discussion papers 07024, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
  8. Anna M. Falzoni & Lucia Tajoli, 2008. "Offshoring and the skill composition of employment in the Italian manufacturing industries," KITeS Working Papers 219, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Jul 2008.
  9. Rosario Crinò, 2007. "Offshoring, Multinationals and Labor Market: A Review of the Empirical Literature," KITeS Working Papers 196, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Jan 2007.
  10. Ryuhei Wakasugi & Banri Ito & Eiichi Tomiura, 2008. "Offshoring and Trade in East Asia: A Statistical Analysis," Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 7(3), pages 101-124, October.

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