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Divided we Stand, United we Fall: Asset Specificity and Vertical Integration Reconsidered

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  • Christian A. Ruzzier

Abstract

Recent surveys and casual observation suggest that higher levels of asset specificity need not always lead to vertical integration, as traditionally stressed by transaction-cost economics. This paper uncovers some of the factors driving firms to (sometimes) choose to remain separated in the presence of high specificity. It shows that in a world where outside options matter and investments are multidimensional, high asset specificity can foster nonintegration: a low level of specificity provides the most misdirected incentives when transacting in a market (because the outside option of external trade becomes so tempting), thus making a stronger case for nonintegration.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian A. Ruzzier, 2012. "Divided we Stand, United we Fall: Asset Specificity and Vertical Integration Reconsidered," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 168(4), pages 658-686, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:jinste:urn:sici:0932-4569(201212)168:4_658:dwsuwf_2.0.tx_2-0
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ken Binmore & Ariel Rubinstein & Asher Wolinsky, 1986. "The Nash Bargaining Solution in Economic Modelling," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(2), pages 176-188, Summer.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Philippe Aghion & Rachel Griffith & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2010. "Vertical Integration and Technology: Theory and Evidence," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(5), pages 989-1033, September.
    3. Artz, Kendall W. & Brush, Thomas H., 2000. "Asset specificity, uncertainty and relational norms: an examination of coordination costs in collaborative strategic alliances," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 337-362, April.
    4. B. Douglas Bernheim & Michael D. Whinston, 1990. "Multimarket Contact and Collusive Behavior," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 1-26, Spring.
    5. Abreu, Dilip, 1986. "Extremal equilibria of oligopolistic supergames," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 191-225, June.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • L24 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Contracting Out; Joint Ventures

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