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Outsourcing vs FDI in Oligopoly Equilibrium


  • Dermot Leahy
  • Catia Montagna


Abstract We consider the make-or-buy decision of oligopolistic firms in an industry in which final good production requires specialized inputs. Factor price considerations dictate that firms acquire the intermediate abroad, by either producing it in a wholly owned subsidiary or outsourcing it to a supplier who must make a relationship-specific investment. Firms’ internationalization mode depends on cost and strategic considerations. Crucially, asymmetric equilibria emerge, with firms choosing different modes of internationalization, even when they are ex ante identical. With ex ante asymmetries, lower cost producers have a stronger incentive to vertically integrate (FDI), while higher cost firms are more likely to outsource. Externalisation contre FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) en équilibre oligopolistique Résumé Cet article concerne la décision de fabriquer ou d'acheter des entreprises oligopolistiques dans une industrie dans laquelle la bonne production finale nécessite des intrants spécialisés. Les considérations de coût du facteur de production obligent les entreprises à acquérir les intermédiaires à l’étranger, soit par leur production dans une filiale en propriété exclusive, soit par externalisation vers un fournisseur qui doit faire un investissement spécifique à la relation. Le mode d'internationalisation des entreprises dépend de considérations de coût et de stratégie. Des équilibres asymétriques émergent de manière critique, les entreprises choisissant différents modes d'internationalisation même lorsqu'elles sont ex ante identiques. Avec des asymétries ex ante, les producteurs à faible coût tendent plus facilement vers l'intégration verticale (FDI), tandis que les entreprises à coût élevé tendent plutôt vers la pratique de l'externalisation. Subcontratación versus inversión extranjera directa (IED [FDI]) en el equilibrio de un oligopolio Résumén Analizamos la decisión de manufactura o compra en compañías oligopolísticas en una industria en donde la producción final de bienes requiere entradas especializadas. Consideraciones sobre el factor precio hacen que las firmas adquieran el intermedio en el extranjero, ya sea elaborándolo en un subsidiario 100% suyo o subcontratándolo a un proveedor quien debe realizar una inversión en base a una relación específica. El modo de internalización de las firmas depende de consideraciones de coste y estratégicas. De forma crucial, equilibrios asimétricos emergen, con firmas eligiendo diferentes modos de internalización, incluso cuando son idénticas ex ante. Con asimetrías ex ante, los productores de bajo coste tienen un incentivo mayor para integrarse verticalmente (IED [FDI]), mientras que es más probable que las firmas de alto coste usen la subcontratación.

Suggested Citation

  • Dermot Leahy & Catia Montagna, 2009. "Outsourcing vs FDI in Oligopoly Equilibrium," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(2), pages 149-166.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:specan:v:4:y:2009:i:2:p:149-166 DOI: 10.1080/17421770902833964

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Törmä, Hannu & Rutherford, Thomas, 1993. "Integrating Finnish Agriculture into EC," Research Reports 13, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Jones, Rich & Whalley, John, 1989. "A Canadian regional general equilibrium model and some applications," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 368-404, May.
    3. Törmä Hannu, Rutherford Thomas, Vaittinen Risto, 1995. "What Will EU Membership and the Value-Added Tax Reform Do to Finnish Food Economy? - A Computable General Equilibrium Analysis," Discussion Papers 88, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    4. Mark D. Partridge & Dan S. Rickman, 1998. "Regional Computable General Equilibrium Modeling: A Survey and Critical Appraisal," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 21(3), pages 205-248, December.
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    6. Vaittinen Risto, 2004. "Trade Policies and Integration - Evaluations with CGE Models," Research Reports 109, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    7. Matthew W. Peter & Mark Horridge & G.A.Meagher & Fazana Naqvi & B.R.Parmenter, 1996. "The Theoretical Structure of MONASH-MRF," Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre Working Papers op-85, Victoria University, Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre.
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Neary & Monika Mrazova, 2011. "Selection Effects with Heterogeneous Firms," Economics Series Working Papers 588, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    2. Leahy, Dermot & Montagna, Catia, 2012. "Strategic investment and international outsourcing in unionised oligopoly," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 260-269.
    3. Matthew Cole & Robert Elliott & Toshihiro Okubo, 2014. "International environmental outsourcing," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 150(4), pages 639-664, November.

    More about this item


    Outsourcing; foreign direct investment; trade liberalization; oligopoly; F12; F23; L13; L14;

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation


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