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Trade Policy and Firm Boundaries

  • Andrew F. Newman


    (Boston University and CEPR)

  • Laura Alfaro

    (Harvard Business School and NBER)

  • Paola Conconi

    (Universit´e Libre de Bruxelles (ECARES) and CEPR)

  • Harald Fadinger

    (University of Vienna)

This paper provides evidence that market conditions matter for organization design by studying how trade policy affects vertical integration. We embed an incomplete-contract model of firm boundaries into an international trade framework. Integration decisions are driven by a tradeoff between managers’ pecuniary benefits of coordinating production and their private benefits of operating in preferred ways. Integration generates more output than non-integration, but imposes a cost on managers by forcing them to accommodate to common procedures. A key implication is that higher product prices result in more integration. Since trade policy affects prices, it influences organizational decisions: higher tariffs lead to more integration; moreover, ownership structures are more alike across countries with similar levels of protection. To assess the evidence, we construct firm-level indices of vertical integration for a large set of countries from a unique dataset. Our empirical analysis, which exploits both cross-section and time-series variation in import tariffs, provides strong support for the predictions of the model.

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Paper provided by Boston University - Department of Economics in its series Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series with number WP2011-035.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bos:wpaper:wp2011-035
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  1. Patrick Legros & Andrew F. Newman, 2007. "Competing for Ownership," CEDI Discussion Paper Series 07-02, Centre for Economic Development and Institutions(CEDI), Brunel University.
  2. Pinelopi K. Goldberg & Nina Pavcnik, 2004. "Trade, Inequality, and Poverty: What Do We Know? Evidence from Recent Trade Liberalization Episodes in Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 10593, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Conconi, Paola & Legros, Patrick & Newman, Andrew F., 2012. "Trade liberalization and organizational change," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 197-208.
  4. Harrison, Ann E. & Love, Inessa & McMillan, Margaret S., 2002. "Global capital flows and financing constraints," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2782, The World Bank.
  5. Antràs, Pol & Helpman, Elhanan, 2004. "Global Sourcing," CEPR Discussion Papers 4170, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Nick Bloom & Raffaella Sadun & John Van Reenen, 2010. "Does Product Market Competition Lead Firms to Decentralize?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0966, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Pol Antràs, 2003. "Firms, Contracts, and Trade Structure," NBER Working Papers 9740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Ornelas, Emanuel & Turner, John L., 2008. "Trade liberalization, outsourcing, and the hold-up problem," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 225-241, January.
  9. Holger Breinlich, 2006. "Trade Liberalization and Industrial Restructuring through Mergers and Acquisitions," CEP Discussion Papers dp0717, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  10. Rodney D. Ludema & Anna Maria Mayda, 2010. "Do Terms-of-Trade Effects Matter for Trade Agreements? Evidence from WTO Countries," Development Working Papers 293, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  11. Nathan Nunn, 2007. "Relationship-Specificity, Incomplete Contracts, and the Pattern of Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(2), pages 569-600, 05.
  12. repec:eca:wpaper:2008_025 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Paola Conconi & Patrick Legros & Andrew F. Newman, 2008. "Trade Liberalization and Organizational Choice," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-172, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  14. Van den Steen, Eric, 2003. "Organizational Beliefs and Managerial Vision," Working papers 4224-01, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  15. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Antràs, Pol & Staiger, Robert, 2008. "Offshoring and the Role of Trade Agreements," CEPR Discussion Papers 6966, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Christian Broda & Nuno Limao & David E. Weinstein, 2008. "Optimal Tariffs and Market Power: The Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 2032-65, December.
  18. Bombardini, Matilde, 2008. "Firm heterogeneity and lobby participation," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 329-348, July.
  19. Paula Bustos, 2009. "Trade liberalization, exports and technology upgrading: Evidence on the impact of MERCOSUR on Argentinean firms," Economics Working Papers 1173, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  20. Patrick Legros & Andrew Newman, 2013. "A Price Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/141436, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  21. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817.
  22. Christian Broda & Joshua Greenfield & David Weinstein, 2006. "From Groundnuts to Globalization: A Structural Estimate of Trade and Growth," NBER Working Papers 12512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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