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Trust, Competition and Innovation: Theory and Evidence from German Car Manufacturers


  • Giacomo Calzolari
  • Leonardo Felli
  • Johannes Koenen
  • Giancarlo Spagnolo
  • Konrad O. Stahl


We develop a simple theoretical model of a long term buyer-supplier relationship with non-contractible buyer specific R&D investment, and derive predictions on the effects of trust and competition on suppliers’ investment and buyers’ procurement strategies. We address these issues empirically using unique survey data on individual buyer-supplier relationships in the German automotive industry. Consistent with the model’s predictions, higher levels of trust are associated with higher investment levels - but also with more competitive procurement: trust and rents from reduced supplier competition in the procurement process emerge as substitutes both in theory and in the data.

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  • Giacomo Calzolari & Leonardo Felli & Johannes Koenen & Giancarlo Spagnolo & Konrad O. Stahl, 2015. "Trust, Competition and Innovation: Theory and Evidence from German Car Manufacturers," CESifo Working Paper Series 5229, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_5229

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nicholas Bloom & Renata Lemos & Raffaella Sadun & Daniela Scur & John Van Reenen, 2014. "The New Empirical Economics of Management," NBER Working Papers 20102, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Ola Kvaløy & Trond E. Olsen, 2009. "Endogenous Verifiability and Relational Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 2193-2208, December.
    3. 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.
    4. Cabral, Luís M B & Cozzi, Guido & Denicolò, Vincenzo & Spagnolo, Giancarlo & Zanza, Matteo, 2006. "Procuring Innovation," CEPR Discussion Papers 5774, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Dimitri,Nicola & Piga,Gustavo & Spagnolo,Giancarlo (ed.), 2006. "Handbook of Procurement," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521870733.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yeon-Koo Che & Elisabetta Iossa & Patrick Rey, 2015. "Prizes versus Contracts as Incentives for Innovation," CEIS Research Paper 358, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 22 Oct 2015.
    2. Dinah Cohen-Vernik & Oksana Loginova & Niladri B. Syam, 2016. "Sourcing Co-Created Products: Should your Suppliers Collaborate?," Working Papers 1618, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 14 Aug 2018.
    3. Elisabetta Iossa & Federico Biagi & Paola Valbonesi, 2018. "Pre-commercial procurement, procurement of innovative solutions and innovation partnerships in the EU: rationale and strategy," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(8), pages 730-749, November.
    4. Ricard Gil & Giorgio Zanarone, 2016. "New Frontiers in Empirical Research on Informal Contracting," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 172(2), pages 390-407, June.

    More about this item


    trust; hold-up problem; competition; innovation; specific investment; procurement; relational contracts; management practices; suppliers; car manufacturers; German automotive industry;

    JEL classification:

    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L62 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Automobiles; Other Transportation Equipment; Related Parts and Equipment


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