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The Acquisition of Fisher Body by General Motors

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  • Coase, R H

Abstract

It is commonly said that in 1926 General Motors was led to acquire its supplier of automobile bodies, Fisher Body, because Fisher Body held up General Motors. It is claimed that Fisher Body did this by locating its body plants far away from the General Motors assembly plants and by adapting inefficient methods of production, thus increasing both the cost of producing bodies and the profits of Fisher Body under its cost-plus contract. This tale is factually incorrect. What General Motors acquired in 1926 was the 40 percent of the shares of Fisher Body that it did not already own. Furthermore, Fisher Body did not locate its plants far away from the General Motors assembly plants. It is also most implausible, for many reasons, that the Fisher brothers would have used inefficient methods of production. There is no evidence that a holdup occurred. Copyright 2000 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:43:y:2000:i:1:p:15-31
    DOI: 10.1086/467446
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
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