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Outsourcing when Investments are Specific and Complementary

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  • Alla Lileeva
  • Johannes Van Biesebroeck

Abstract

Using the universe of large Canadian manufacturing firms in 1988 and 1996, we investigate to what extent outsourcing decision can be explained by a simple property rights model. The unique availability of disaggregate information on outputs as well as inputs permits the construction of a very detailed measure of vertical integration. We also construct five different measures of technological intensity to proxy for investments that are likely to be specific to a buyer-seller relationship. A theoretical model that allows for varying degrees of investment specificity and for complementarities---an externality between buyer and supplier investments---guides the analysis. Our main findings are that (i) greater specificity makes outsourcing less likely; (ii) complementarities between the investments of the buyer and the seller are also associated with less outsourcing; (iii) property rights predictions on the link between investment intensities and optimal ownership are only supported for transactions with low complementarities. High specificity and a low risk of appropriation strengthen the predictions in the model and in the data.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14477.

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Date of creation: Nov 2008
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14477

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Cited by:
  1. Luigi Benfratello & Tiziano Razzolini & Alessandro Sembenelli, 2009. "Does ICT Investment Spur or Hamper Offshoring? Empirical Evidence from Microdata," Development Working Papers 276, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  2. Emanuel Ornelas & John L. Turner, 2008. "Protection and International Sourcing," CEP Discussion Papers dp0900, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  3. Bartel, Ann P & Lach, Saul & Sicherman, Nachum, 2005. "Outsourcing and Technological Change," CEPR Discussion Papers 5082, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Johannes Van Biesebroeck & Lijun ZHANG, 2011. "Global sourcing of a complex good," Center for Economic Studies - Discussion papers ces11.26, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën.

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