IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Strategic investment and international outsourcing in unionised oligopoly

  • Leahy, Dermot
  • Montagna, Catia

We critically consider the conventional belief that the attractiveness of international outsourcing lies in cheaper labour costs overseas and that it offers a means to ‘escape’ the power of unions. We develop an oligopoly model in which firms facing unionised domestic labour market choose between producing an intermediate in-house or outsourcing it to a non-unionised foreign supplier that makes a relationship specific investment in developing the intermediate. We show that outsourcing typically results in higher wages and does not always reduce marginal costs. Trade liberalisation favours outsourcing particularly for the relatively less efficient firms.

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:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE) in its series SIRE Discussion Papers with number 2010-19.

in new window

Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:edn:sirdps:151
Contact details of provider: Postal: 31 Buccleuch Place, EH8 9JT, Edinburgh
Phone: +44(0)1316508361
Fax: +44(0)1316504514
Web page:

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. 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.
  2. Elhanan Helpman, 2006. "Trade, FDI, and the Organization of Firms," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2118, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:1:p:85-120 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver, 1985. "The Cost and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 70, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Outsourcing in a Global Economy," NBER Working Papers 8728, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Zhao, Laixun, 1995. "Cross-hauling direct foreign investment and unionized oligopoly," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 1237-1253, June.
  7. Lommerud, Kjell Erik & Meland, Frode & Straume, Odd Rune, 2005. "Can deunionization lead to international outsourcing?," Working Papers in Economics 15/05, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  8. Tomiura, Eiichi, 2007. "Foreign outsourcing, exporting, and FDI: A productivity comparison at the firm level," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 113-127, May.
  9. Yongmin Chen & Jota Ishikawa & Zhihao Yu, 2002. "Trade Liberalization and Strategic Outsourcing," Carleton Economic Papers 02-12, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2004.
  10. John McLaren, 2000. ""Globalization" and Vertical Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1239-1254, December.
  11. Leahy, D. & Montagna, C., 1999. "Unionisation and Foreign Direct Investment: Challenging Conventional Wisdom?," Papers 99/15, College Dublin, Department of Political Economy-.
  12. Giulia Faggio & Kjell G. Salvanes & John Van Reenen, 2007. "The evolution of inequality in productivity and wages: panel data evidence," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4558, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  13. Dermot Leahy & Catia Montagna, 2007. "Make-Or-Buy’ In International Oligopoly And The Role Of Competitive Pressure," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n1901107.pdf, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  14. Görg, Holger & Hanley, Aoife, 2004. "Does Outsourcing Increase Profitability?," IZA Discussion Papers 1372, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Boulhol, Hervé & Dobbelaere, Sabien & Maioli, Sara, 2006. "Imports as Product and Labor Market Discipline," IZA Discussion Papers 2178, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Moreno, L & Rodríguez, D, 2010. "Markups, bargaining power and offshoring: an empirical assessment," MPRA Paper 23587, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  17. Maria Bas & Juan Carluccio, 2010. "Wage Bargaining and the Boundaries of the Multinational Firm," Working Papers 2010-03, CEPII research center.
  18. Dermot Leahy & Catia Montagna, 2009. "Outsourcing vs FDI in Oligopoly Equilibrium," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(2), pages 149-166.
  19. Bernd Görzig & Andreas Stephan, 2002. "Outsourcing and Firm-level Performance," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 309, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  20. Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 2002. "Outsourcing Versus FDI in Industry Equilibrium," CEPR Discussion Papers 3647, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  21. Filip Abraham & Jozef Konings & Stijn Vanormelingen, 2009. "The effect of globalization on union bargaining and price-cost margins of firms," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 145(1), pages 13-36, April.
  22. David A. Macpherson & James B. Stewart, 1990. "The effect of international competition on union and nonunion wages," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(4), pages 434-446, April.
  23. Nickerson, Jack A. & Vanden Bergh, Richard, 1999. "Economizing in a context of strategizing: governance mode choice in Cournot competition," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-15, September.
  24. Richard B. Freeman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1991. "Industrial Wage and Employment Determination in an Open Economy," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market, pages 235-259 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. John M. Abowd & Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abow91-1, December.
  26. Barbara J. Spencer, 2005. "International Outsourcing and Incomplete Contracts," NBER Working Papers 11418, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Leahy, Dermot & Montagna, Catia, 2012. "Strategic investment and international outsourcing in unionised oligopoly," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 260-269.
  28. Zhao, Laixun, 2001. "Unionization, vertical markets, and the outsourcing of multinationals," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 187-202, October.
  29. Dani Rodrik, 1997. "Has Globalization Gone Too Far?," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 57.
  30. Laixun Zhao & Makoto Okamura, 2010. "Competing to Outsource in the South," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(3), pages 427-442, 08.
  31. Oz Shy & Rune Stenbacka, 2005. "Partial outsourcing, monitoring cost, and market structure," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(4), pages 1173-1190, November.
  32. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:98:y:1983:i:1:p:63-83 is not listed on IDEAS
  33. Michel Dumont & Glenn Rayp & Peter Willemé, 2006. "Does internationalization affect union bargaining power? An empirical study for five EU countries," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(1), pages 77-102, January.
  34. Shy, Oz & Stenbacka, Rune, 2003. "Strategic outsourcing," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 203-224, February.
  35. Gaston, Noel & Trefler, Daniel, 1995. "Union wage sensitivity to trade and protection: Theory and evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1-2), pages 1-25, August.
  36. Bughin, Jacques & Vannini, Stefano, 1995. "Strategic direct investment under unionized oligopoly," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 127-145, March.
  37. Jan Rose Skaksen, 2004. "International outsourcing when labour markets are unionized," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 37(1), pages 78-94, February.
  38. Skaksen, Mette Yde & Sorensen, Jan Rose, 2001. "Should trade unions appreciate foreign direct investment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 379-390, December.
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:edn:sirdps:151. 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: (Gina Reddie)

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.