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Contractual Frictions and Global Sourcing

  • Antras, Pol
  • Helpman, Elhanan

We generalize the Antràs and Helpman (2004) model of the international organization of production in order to accommodate varying degrees of contractual frictions. In particular, we allow the degree of contractibility to vary across inputs and countries. A continuum of firms with heterogeneous productivities decide whether to integrate or outsource the production of intermediate inputs, and from which country to source them. Final-good producers and their suppliers make relationship-specific investments which are only partially contractible, both in an integrated firm and in an arm’s-length relationship. We describe equilibria in which firms with different productivity levels choose different ownership structures and supplier locations, and then study the effects of changes in the quality of contractual institutions on the relative prevalence of these organizational forms. Better contracting institutions in the South raise the prevalence of offshoring, but may reduce the relative prevalence of FDI or foreign outsourcing. The impact on the composition of offshoring depends on whether the institutional improvement affects disproportionately the contractibility of a particular input. A key message of the paper is that improvements in the contractibility of inputs controlled by final-good producers have different effects than improvements in the contractibility of inputs controlled by suppliers.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6033.

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Date of creation: Jan 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6033
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  1. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Peter K. Schott, 2009. "Importers, Exporters and Multinationals: A Portrait of Firms in the U.S. that Trade Goods," NBER Chapters, in: Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data, pages 513-552 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2004. "Export Versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 300-316, March.
  3. 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.
  4. Bernard, A., 1997. "Exceptional Exporter Performance: Cause, Effect, or Both?," Working papers 97-21, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  5. 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 1119-58, December.
  6. Pol Antràs, 2003. "Firms, Contracts, and Trade Structure," NBER Working Papers 9740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Pol Antras, 2004. "Incomplete Contracts and the Product Cycle," 2004 Meeting Papers 19, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Antras, Pol & Helpman, Elhanan, 2004. "Global Sourcing," Scholarly Articles 3196327, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Oliver Hart & Sanford Grossman, 1985. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Working papers 372, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Michael P. Keane & Susan E. Feinberg, 2006. "Accounting for the Growth of MNC-Based Trade Using a Structural Model of U.S. MNCs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1515-1558, December.
  12. Andrew B Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and productivity in international trade," Working Papers 00-08, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  13. Acemoglu, Daron & Antras, Pol & Helpman, Elhanan, 2007. "Contracts and Technology Adoption," Scholarly Articles 3199063, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  14. Elhanan Helpman, 2006. "Trade, FDI, and the Organization of Firms," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2118, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  15. Feenstra, Robert C & Hanson, Gordon H, 1996. "Globalization, Outsourcing, and Wage Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 240-45, May.
  16. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  17. repec:rus:hseeco:122439 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2003. "Export versus FDI," NBER Working Papers 9439, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. David Hummels & Jun Ishii & Kei-Mu Yi, 1999. "The nature and growth of vertical specialization in world trade," Staff Reports 72, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  20. Jose Campa & Linda S. Goldberg, 1997. "The evolving external orientation of manufacturing: a profile of four countries," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Jul, pages 53-81.
  21. Ronald W. Jones, 2000. "Globalization and the Theory of Input Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026210086x, June.
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