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Strategic Choice Along The Vertical Coordination Continuum


  • Peterson, H. Christopher
  • Wysocki, Allen F.
  • Harsh, Stephen B.


Starting from the generalized notion of a vertical coordination continuum introduced by Williamson and others, the article more specifically defines the nature of the continuum, especially the array of hybrid strategies. The continuum as presented includes five distinct groups of strategy – spot markets, specification contracts, relation-based alliances, equity-based alliances, and vertical integration. The article then presents a decision making framework that can be used by firms to determine which place on the continuum makes the most sense for a particular transaction. The framework suggests that five assessments are critical to adopting a specific change in coordination strategy: (1) Is the current strategy too costly?; (2) Would an alternative strategy reduce the cost?; (3) Is an alternative programmable?; (4) Is an alternative implementable?; (5) Is the risk/return tradeoff acceptable? If the answers to all five assessments are "yes," then a change in strategy would be expected to occur.

Suggested Citation

  • Peterson, H. Christopher & Wysocki, Allen F. & Harsh, Stephen B., 2001. "Strategic Choice Along The Vertical Coordination Continuum," International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA), vol. 4(02).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:ifaamr:34469

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barry, Peter J., 1995. "Industrialization of U.S. Agriculture: Policy, Research, and Education Needs," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(01), pages 128-135, April.
    2. Thomas L. Sporleder, 1992. "Managerial Economics of Vertically Coordinated Agricultural Firms," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 74(5), pages 1226-1231.
    3. Dennis R. Henderson, 1994. "Measuring and Assessing Vertical Ties in the Agro-food System," Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 42(4), pages 549-560, December.
    4. Williamson, Oliver E, 1973. "Markets and Hierarchies: Some Elementary Considerations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 316-325, May.
    5. Martin, Larry & Westgren, Randall & Schrader, Lee & Cousineau, Linda & Le Roc'h, Nathalie & Paguaga, Roger & Amanor-Boadu, Vincent, 1993. "Alternative Business Linkages: The Case of the Poultry Industry," Working Papers 244123, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
    6. Joskow, Paul L, 1987. "Contract Duration and Relationship-Specific Investments: Empirical Evidence from Coal Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 168-185, March.
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