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Global outsourcing or foreign direct investment: Why apple chose outsourcing for the iPod


  • Lo, Chu-Ping


A simple model is presented, where a firm's productivity is endogenized by its R&D investment. It shows that the most productive firms may prefer international outsourcing to foreign direct investment (FDI) in industries with a high innovation share. The high innovation share motivates the firms to economize on organizational cost in order to save resources for R&D investment, making outsourcing preferable to FDI because the former incurs a smaller organizational cost. This model helps explain why Apple Inc., belonging to the electronics industry, which has a particularly high innovation share, launched its innovative iPod through international outsourcing instead of FDI.

Suggested Citation

  • Lo, Chu-Ping, 2011. "Global outsourcing or foreign direct investment: Why apple chose outsourcing for the iPod," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 163-169.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:japwor:v:23:y:2011:i:3:p:163-169 DOI: 10.1016/j.japwor.2011.06.002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hart, Oliver D & Moore, John, 1988. "Incomplete Contracts and Renegotiation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 755-785, July.
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    4. Mansfield, Edwin, 1980. "Basic Research and Productivity Increase in Manufacturing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 863-873, December.
    5. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
    6. Pol Antras & Elhanan Helpman, 2004. "Global Sourcing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 552-580, June.
    7. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2004. "Export Versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 300-316, March.
    8. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2005. "Outsourcing in a Global Economy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 135-159.
    9. Giuseppe Medda & Claudio Piga & Donald S. Siegel, 2003. "On the Relationship between R&D and Productivity: a Treatment Effect Analysis," Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics 0307, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Economics.
    10. Head, Keith & Ries, John, 2003. "Heterogeneity and the FDI versus export decision of Japanese manufacturers," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 448-467, December.
    11. Leonard, William N, 1971. "Research and Development in Industrial Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(2), pages 232-256, March-Apr.
    12. Sourafel Girma & Richard Kneller & Mauro Pisu, 2005. "Exports versus FDI: An Empirical Test," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 141(2), pages 193-218, July.
    13. Glass, Amy Jocelyn & Saggi, Kamal, 2001. "Innovation and wage effects of international outsourcing," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 67-86, January.
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    More about this item


    Electronics industry; International outsourcing; Incomplete contract; FDI; R&D;

    JEL classification:

    • F02 - International Economics - - General - - - International Economic Order and Integration
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade


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