Foreign versus domestic outsourcing: Firm-level evidence on the role of technology
The decision about where to outsource varies across firms and industries. General machinery heavily depends on domestic subcontractors, while outsourcing overseas is prevalent in apparel. Based on firm-level data explicitly distinguishing foreign outsourcing from domestic outsourcing in all manufacturing industries, this paper finds that firms tend to prefer domestic outsourcing to foreign outsourcing when they are R&D-intensive. This finding is consistent with incomplete contracting models, since technologically complex products are likely to require high-quality contracting environment and assembler-supplier proximity. This paper also finds that firms connected with computer networks are actively outsourcing.
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