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Vertical Scope Revisited: Transaction Costs vs Capabilities & Profit Opportunities in Mortgage Banking

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  • Michael G. Jacobides
  • Lorin M. Hitt

Abstract

What determines vertical scope? Transactions cost economics (TCE) has been the dominant paradigm for understanding "make" vs. "buy" choices. However, the traditional focus on empirically validating or refuting TCE has taken attention away from other possible drivers of scope, and it has rarely allowed us to understand the explanatory power of TCE versus other competing theories. This paper, using a particularly rich panel dataset from the Mortgage Banking industry, explores both the extent to which TCE predictions hold, and their ability to explain the variance in scope, when compared to all other possible drivers of integration. Using some direct measures of transaction costs, we observe that integration does mitigate risks; yet such risks and transaction costs do not seem to drive firm-level decisions of integration in retail production of loans. Rather, capability-driven and capacity- (or limit to growth-) driven considerations explain a significant amount of variance in our sample, under a variety of specifications and tests. We thus conclude that while TCE explanations of vertical scope are important, their impact is dwarfed by capability differences and by the desire of firms to leverage their capabilities and productive capacity by using the market.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania in its series Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers with number 01-17.

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Date of creation: Apr 2001
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Handle: RePEc:wop:pennin:01-17

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Keywords: Mortgage Banking; Transaction Costs; Integration; Capabilities; Capacity Constraints; Limits to Growth;

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  1. Becker, G.S. & Murphy, K.M., 1991. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 92-5, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  2. Armen A. Alchian & Harold Demsetz, 1971. "Production, Information Costs and Economic Organizations," UCLA Economics Working Papers 10A, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Shelanski, Howard A & Klein, Peter G, 1995. "Empirical Research in Transaction Cost Economics: A Review and Assessment," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(2), pages 335-61, October.
  4. 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.
  5. Riordan, Michael H. & Williamson, Oliver E., 1985. "Asset specificity and economic organization," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 365-378, December.
  6. Cheung, Steven N S, 1983. "The Contractual Nature of the Firm," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 1-21, April.
  7. Caillaud Bernard & Jullien Bruno & Picard Pierre, 1991. "Competing vertical structures : precommitment and renegotiation," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9125, CEPREMAP.
  8. Dixit, Avinash, 1983. "Vertical integration in a monopolistically competitive industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 63-78, March.
  9. James J. Anton & Dennis A. Yao, 1987. "Second Sourcing and the Experience Curve: Price Competition in Defense Procurement," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(1), pages 57-76, Spring.
  10. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
  11. Perry, Martin K., 1989. "Vertical integration: Determinants and effects," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 183-255 Elsevier.
  12. Vernon, John M & Graham, Daniel A, 1971. "Profitability of Monopolization by Vertical Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(4), pages 924-25, July-Aug..
  13. Barzel, Yoram, 1982. "Measurement Cost and the Organization of Markets," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(1), pages 27-48, April.
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