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Determinants of Firm Boundaries: Empirical Analysis of the Japanese Auto Industry from 1984 to 2002

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  • Sadao Nagaoka
  • Akira Takeishi
  • Yoshihisa Noro

Abstract

We have assessed the determinants of the choice of integration, relational contracting (keiretsu sourcing) and market sourcing by seven Japanese automobile manufacturers (OEMs) with respect to 54 components in light of contract economics. Our major findings are the following. First, the specificity and interdependency of a component significantly promotes vertical integration over keiretsu and keiretsu over market, consistent with transaction cost economics. Second, interdependency is a more important consideration for the former choice than for the latter choice, and the reverse is the case for specificity. This suggests that the hold-up risk due to specific investment can be often effectively controlled by a relational contracting based on keiretsu sourcing, while accommodating non-contractible design changes may often require vertical integration. Third, while higher testability of a component makes the effects of specificity significantly smaller, it also promotes the choice of keiretsu sourcing over market sourcing. One interpretation of this last result is that while higher testability improves the contractibility of the component with high specificity, it simultaneously enhances the advantage of keiretsu sourcing since it provides more opportunities for the supplier to explore new information for a collaborative exploitation with an OEM.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13063.

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Date of creation: Apr 2007
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Publication status: published as Nagaoka, Sadao & Takeishi, Akira & Noro, Yoshihisa, 2008. "Determinants of firm boundaries: Empirical analysis of the Japanese auto industry from 1984 to 2002," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 187-206, June.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13063

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  1. Aghion, P. & Tirole, J., 1993. "On the Management of Innovation," Working papers 93-12, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
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  6. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1994. "The Management of Innovation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1185-1209, November.
  7. George P. Baker & Thomas N. Hubbard, 2003. "Make Versus Buy in Trucking: Asset Ownership, Job Design, and Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 551-572, June.
  8. Kirk Monteverde & David J. Teece, 1982. "Supplier Switching Costs and Vertical Integration in the Automobile Industry," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(1), pages 206-213, Spring.
  9. Slade, Margaret E, 1996. "Multitask Agency and Contract Choice: An Empirical Exploration," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 37(2), pages 465-86, May.
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  11. Wernerfelt, Birger, 1997. "On the Nature and Scope of the Firm: An Adjustment-Cost Theory," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70(4), pages 489-514, October.
  12. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 2002. "Relational Contracts And The Theory Of The Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 39-84, February.
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