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How Wide is the Scope of Hold-Up-Based Theories? Contractual Form and Market Thickness in Trucking

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  • Thomas N. Hubbard
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    Abstract

    How far do the contractual implications of hold-up-based theories (Klein, Crawford, and Alchian (1978), Williamson (1979, 1985)) extend? I investigate this in the context of trucking. Quasi-rents in trucking are generally smaller than in the contexts studied in the previous empirical literature. They vary with hauls' distance and the thickness of local markets. I find that doubling the thickness of the market increases the likelihood that simple spot arrangements govern transactions by about 30% for long hauls. I find weaker evidence of relationships between local market thickness and contractual form for short hauls -- hauls for which quasi-rents are particularly small. Contracts' role as protectors of quasi-rents becomes less important as quasi-rents decrease, but exists over a surprisingly large range.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7347.

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    Date of creation: Sep 1999
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    Publication status: published as Hubbard, Thomas N. "Contractual Form And Market Thickness In Trucking," Rand Journal of Economics, 2001, v32(2,Sumer), 369-386.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7347

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    1. Pirrong, Stephen Craig, 1993. "Contracting Practices in Bulk Shipping Markets: A Transactions Cost Explanation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 937-76, October.
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    4. Joskow, Paul L, 1985. "Vertical Integration and Long-term Contracts: The Case of Coal-burning Electric Generating Plants," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(1), pages 33-80, Spring.
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    7. Theodore E. Keeler., 1989. "Deregulation and Scale Economies in the U. S. Trucking Industry: An Econometric Extension of the Survivor Principle," Economics Working Papers 89-100, University of California at Berkeley.
    8. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver, 1985. "The Cost and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 70, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. 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.
    10. Paul Klemperer, 1987. "The Competitiveness of Markets with Switching Costs," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(1), pages 138-150, Spring.
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    Cited by:
    1. Shah, Nilopa & Brueckner, Jan K., 2011. "Price and Frequency Competition in Freight Transportation," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt1n42k26q, University of California Transportation Center.
    2. Woodruff, Christopher, 2002. "Non-contractible investments and vertical integration in the Mexican footwear industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(8), pages 1197-1224, October.
    3. Pierre-André Chiappori & Bernard Salanié, 2002. "Testing Contract Theory : A Survey of Some Recent Work," Working Papers 2002-11, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
    4. George P. Baker & Thomas N. Hubbard, 2000. "Contractibility and Asset Ownership: On-Board Computers and Governance in U.S. Trucking," NBER Working Papers 7634, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Francine Lafontaine & Scott E. Masten, 2002. "Contracting in the Absence of Specific Investments and Moral Hazard: Understanding Carrier-Driver Relations in U.S. Trucking," NBER Working Papers 8859, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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