IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Why Do Firms Own Production Chains?

Listed author(s):
  • Ali Hortacsu
  • Chad Syverson

Many firms own links of production chains--i.e., they own both upstream and downstream plants in vertically linked industries. We use broad-based yet detailed data from the economy’s goods-producing sectors to investigate the reasons for such vertical ownership. It does not appear that vertical ownership is usually used to facilitate transfers of goods along the production chain, as is often presumed. Shipments from firms’ upstream units to their downstream units are surprisingly low, relative to both the firms’ total upstream production and their downstream needs. Roughly one-third of upstream plants report no shipments to their firms’ downstream units. Half ship less than three percent of their output internally. We do find that manufacturing plants in vertical ownership structures have high measures of “type” (productivity, size, and capital intensity). These patterns primarily reflect selective sorting of high plant types into large firms; once we account for firm size, vertical structure per se matters much less. We propose an alternative explanation for vertical ownership that is consistent with these results. Namely, that rather than moderating goods transfers down production chains, it instead allows more efficient transfers of intangible inputs (e.g., managerial oversight) within the firm. We document some suggestive evidence of this mechanism.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: https://www2.census.gov/ces/wp/2009/CES-WP-09-31.pdf
File Function: First version, 2009
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 09-31.

as
in new window

Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2009
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:09-31
Contact details of provider: Postal:
4600 Silver Hill Road, Washington, DC 20233

Phone: (301) 763-6460
Fax: (301) 763-5935
Web page: http://www.census.gov/ces
Email:


More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as
in new window


  1. 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, 09.
  2. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716.
  3. Chad Syverson, 2004. "Product Substitutability and Productivity Dispersion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 534-550, May.
  4. Ali Hortaçsu & Chad Syverson, 2007. "Cementing Relationships: Vertical Integration, Foreclosure, Productivity, and Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 250-301.
  5. Pol Antràs, 2003. "Firms, Contracts, and Trade Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1375-1418.
  6. Hillberry, Russell & Hummels, David, 2008. "Trade responses to geographic frictions: A decomposition using micro-data," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 527-550, April.
  7. David J. Teece, 2003. "Towards an Economic Theory of the Multiproduct Firm," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Essays In Technology Management And Policy Selected Papers of David J Teece, chapter 15, pages 419-446 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
  8. Chad Syverson, 2011. "What Determines Productivity?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(2), pages 326-365, June.
  9. Garicano, Luis & Hubbard, Thomas, 2007. "The Return to Knowledge Hierarchies," CEPR Discussion Papers 6077, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Gollop, Frank M & Monahan, James L, 1991. "A Generalized Index of Diversification: Trends in U.S. Manufacturing," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(2), pages 318-330, May.
  11. Thomas J. Holmes & John J. Stevens, 2010. "An alternative theory of the plant size distribution with an application to trade," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-30, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  12. Sherwin Rosen, 1982. "Authority, Control, and the Distribution of Earnings," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 311-323, Autumn.
  13. Richard Ericson & Ariel Pakes, 1995. "Markov-Perfect Industry Dynamics: A Framework for Empirical Work," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(1), pages 53-82.
  14. Russell Hillberry & David Hummels, 2003. "Intranational Home Bias: Some Explanations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 1089-1092, November.
  15. Maksimovic, Vojislav & Phillips, Gordon & Prabhala, N.R., 2011. "Post-merger restructuring and the boundaries of the firm," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(2), pages 317-343.
  16. Andrea L. Eisfeldt & Adriano A. Rampini, 2009. "Leasing, Ability to Repossess, and Debt Capacity," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(4), pages 1621-1657, April.
  17. Francine Lafontaine & Margaret Slade, 2007. "Vertical Integration and Firm Boundaries: The Evidence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 629-685, September.
  18. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-670, May.
  19. Doms, Mark & Dunne, Timothy & Roberts, Mark J., 1995. "The role of technology use in the survival and growth of manufacturing plants," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 523-542, December.
  20. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-1150, September.
  21. Luis Garicano & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2006. "Organization and Inequality in a Knowledge Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1383-1435.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:09-31. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Erica Coates)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.