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Determinants of vertical integration in export processing: Theory and evidence from China

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  • Fernandes, Ana P.
  • Tang, Heiwai

Abstract

This paper examines the determinants of vertical integration versus outsourcing in export processing, by exploiting the coexistence of two export processing regimes in China, which designate by law who owns and controls the imported components. Based on a variant of the Antràs-Helpman (2004) model, we show theoretically that control over imported components for assembly can affect firm integration decisions. Our empirical results show that when Chinese plants control the use of components, the export share of foreign-owned plants is positively correlated with the intensity of inputs provided by the headquarter (capital, skill, and R&D). These results are consistent with the property-rights theory of intra-firm trade. However, when foreign firms own and control the components, there is no evidence of a positive relationship between the intensity of headquarters' inputs and the prevalence of vertical integration. The results are consistent with our model that considers control over imported components as an alternative to asset ownership to alleviate hold-up by export-processing plants.

Suggested Citation

  • Fernandes, Ana P. & Tang, Heiwai, 2012. "Determinants of vertical integration in export processing: Theory and evidence from China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 396-414.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:99:y:2012:i:2:p:396-414
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2012.05.004
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    Keywords

    Intra-firm trade; Vertical integration; Export processing; Outsourcing;

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation

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