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Modularity and the organization of international production

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  • Van Assche, Ari

Abstract

In recent decades, the global electronics industry has experienced a large reorganization. U.S. electronics firms have on a large scale off-shored and outsourced their manufacturing activities. Japanese electronics firms have offshored a large portion of their manufacturing, but have remained vertically integrated. To account for these industry trends, we build an two-country industry-equilibrium model in which firms concurrently choose (i) a product architecture, (ii) an ownership structure and (iii) a location for production. We demonstrate that technological advances that allow firms to more easily modularize their products can explain the co-evolving trends of offshoring and outsourcing. We also assess the role of technology on the different patterns of reorganization between Japanese and U.S. firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Van Assche, Ari, 2008. "Modularity and the organization of international production," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 353-368, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:japwor:v:20:y:2008:i:3:p:353-368
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Carl Bonham & Byron Gangnes & Ari Van Assche, 2007. "Fragmentation and East Asia's information technology trade," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(2), pages 215-228.
    2. Elhanan Helpman, 2006. "Trade, FDI, and the Organization of Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(3), pages 589-630, September.
    3. Timothy J. Sturgeon, 2002. "Modular production networks: a new American model of industrial organization," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(3), pages 451-496, June.
    4. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
    5. Pol Antras & Elhanan Helpman, 2004. "Global Sourcing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 552-580, June.
    6. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Integration versus Outsourcing in Industry Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 85-120.
    8. Ulrich, Karl, 1995. "The role of product architecture in the manufacturing firm," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 419-440, May.
    9. Barbara Spencer, 2005. "International outsourcing and incomplete contracts," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(4), pages 1107-1135, November.
    10. Galina A. Schwartz & Ari Van Assche, 2006. "Input Specificity and Global Sourcing," CIRANO Working Papers 2006s-02, CIRANO.
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    Cited by:

    1. Byron Gangnes & Ari Van Assche, 2010. "Global Production Networks in Electronics and Intra-Asian Trade," LICOS Discussion Papers 25710, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    2. Tanaka, Kiyoyasu, 2011. "Vertical foreign direct investment: Evidence from Japanese and U.S. multinational enterprises," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 97-111, March.
    3. Fu, Wenying & Revilla Diez, Javier & Schiller, Daniel, 2013. "Interactive learning, informal networks and innovation: Evidence from electronics firm survey in the Pearl River Delta, China," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 635-646.

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