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Fisher-General Motors and the Nature of the Firm

Listed author(s):
  • Klein, Benjamin

After working well for more than 5 years, the Fisher Body-General Motors (GM) contract for the supply of automobile bodies broke down when GM's demand for Fisher's bodies unexpectedly increased dramatically. This pushed the imperfect contractual arrangement between the parties outside the self-enforcing range and led Fisher to take advantage of the fact that GM was contractually obligated to purchase bodies on a cost-plus basis. Fisher increased its short-term profit by failing to make the investments required by GM in a plant located near GM production facilities in Flint, Michigan. Vertical integration, with an associated side payment from GM to Fisher, was the way in which this contractual hold-up problem was solved. This examination of the Fisher-GM case illustrates the role of vertical integration in avoiding the rigidity costs of long-term contracts. Copyright 2000 by the University of Chicago.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/467449
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law & Economics.

Volume (Year): 43 (2000)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 105-141

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:43:y:2000:i:1:p:105-41
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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  1. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-1158, December.
  2. Joskow, Paul L, 1988. "Asset Specificity and the Structure of Vertical Relationships: Empirical Evidence," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 95-117, Spring.
  3. Shelanski, Howard A & Klein, Peter G, 1995. "Empirical Research in Transaction Cost Economics: A Review and Assessment," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(2), pages 335-361, October.
  4. Masahiko Aoki, 2013. "Toward an Economic Model of the Japanese Firm," Chapters, in: Comparative Institutional Analysis, chapter 18, pages 315-341 Edward Elgar Publishing.
  5. Klein, Benjamin, 1996. "Why Hold-Ups Occur: The Self-Enforcing Range of Contractual Relationships," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(3), pages 444-463, July.
  6. Bengt Holmstrom & John Roberts, 1998. "The Boundaries of the Firm Revisited," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 73-94, Fall.
  7. Erin Anderson, 1985. "The Salesperson as Outside Agent or Employee: A Transaction Cost Analysis," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 4(3), pages 234-254.
  8. Asanuma, Banri, 1989. "Manufacturer-supplier relationships in Japan and the concept of relation-specific skill," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 1-30, March.
  9. Klein, Benjamin, 1988. "Vertical Integration as Organizational Ownership: The Fisher Body-General Motors Relationship Revisited," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 199-213, Spring.
  10. Masten, Scott E, 1988. "A Legal Basis for the Firm," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 181-198, Spring.
  11. Freeland, Robert F, 2000. "Creating Holdup through Vertical Integration: Fisher Body Revisited," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(1), pages 33-66, April.
  12. Klein, Benjamin & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "Vertical Restraints as Contract Enforcement Mechanisms," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(2), pages 265-297, October.
  13. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817.
  14. Monteverde, Kirk & Teece, David J, 1982. "Appropriable Rents and Quasi-Vertical Integration," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(2), pages 321-328, October.
  15. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-641, August.
  16. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
  17. Sako, Mari & Helper, Susan, 1998. "Determinants of trust in supplier relations: Evidence from the automotive industry in Japan and the United States," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 387-417, March.
  18. Coase, R H, 2000. "The Acquisition of Fisher Body by General Motors," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(1), pages 15-31, April.
  19. John, George & Weitz, Barton A, 1988. "Forward Integration into Distribution: An Empirical Test of Transaction Cost Analysis," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(2), pages 337-355, Fall.
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