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Production Outsourcing, Organizational Governance and Firm’s Technological Performance: Evidence from Italy


  • Roberto Antonietti

    (University of Bologna)

  • Giulio Cainelli

    (University of Bari)


Aim of this paper is to study whether and how the firm’s decision to outsource production activities affects its technological performance. In particular, we look at how the alignment between the firm’s governance strategy and the underlying attributes of the transactions affects the capacity of the firm to introduce new products and processes. Using microeconomic data on a repeated cross-section of Italian manufacturing firms for the period 1998-2003, we develop a two-stage approach: first, we estimate the determinants of the firm’s organizational governance (production outsourcing); second, we incorporate a measure of governance misalignment into a technological performance relation. We find (i) that firms not aligned with the optimal organizational governance perform less well in terms of process innovation than more aligned competitors, but (ii) that misalignment has a positive effect on product innovation. However, this counterintuitive result is strongly characterized by non-linear effects that reverse the latter correlation for high values of governance misfit.

Suggested Citation

  • Roberto Antonietti & Giulio Cainelli, 2007. "Production Outsourcing, Organizational Governance and Firm’s Technological Performance: Evidence from Italy," Working Papers 2007.58, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2007.58

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sourafel Girma & Holger Görg, 2004. "Outsourcing, Foreign Ownership, and Productivity: Evidence from UK Establishment-level Data," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(5), pages 817-832, November.
    2. Tomiura, Eiichi, 2005. "Foreign outsourcing and firm-level characteristics: Evidence from Japanese manufacturers," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 255-271, June.
    3. Holger Görg & Aoife Hanley, 2004. "Does Outsourcing Increase Profitability?," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 35(3), pages 267-288.
    4. Pol Antràs & Luis Garicano & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2006. "Offshoring in a Knowledge Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 31-77.
    5. Joskow, Paul L, 1988. "Asset Specificity and the Structure of Vertical Relationships: Empirical Evidence," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 95-117, Spring.
    6. David J. Teece, 2008. "Firm organization, industrial structure, and technological innovation," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Transfer And Licensing Of Know-How And Intellectual Property Understanding the Multinational Enterprise in the Modern World, chapter 11, pages 265-296 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    7. Massimiliano Mazzanti & Sandro Montresor & Paolo Pini, 2009. "The General Profile of the Outsourcing Firm: Evidence for a Local Production System of Emilia Romagna," Chapters,in: Corporate Governance, Organization and the Firm, chapter 8 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. Swenson, Deborah L, 2000. "Firm Outsourcing Decisions: Evidence from U.S. Foreign Trade Zones," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 38(2), pages 175-189, April.
    9. Almas Heshmati, 2003. "Productivity Growth, Efficiency and Outsourcing in Manufacturing and Service Industries," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(1), pages 79-112, February.
    10. Bernd Görzig & Andreas Stephan, 2002. "Outsourcing and Firm-level Performance," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 309, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    11. Bartel, Ann P & Lach, Saul & Sicherman, Nachum, 2005. "Outsourcing and Technological Change," CEPR Discussion Papers 5082, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Lyons, Bruce R., 1995. "Specific investment, economies of scale, and the make-or-buy decision: A test of transaction cost theory," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 431-443, May.
    13. repec:hrv:faseco:4784031 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Bartel, Ann P & Lichtenberg, Frank R, 1987. "The Comparative Advantage of Educated Workers in Implementing New Technology," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(1), pages 1-11, February.
    15. Glass, Amy Jocelyn & Saggi, Kamal, 2001. "Innovation and wage effects of international outsourcing," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 67-86, January.
    16. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Integration versus Outsourcing in Industry Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 85-120.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fabio Pieri & Enrico Zaninotto, 2013. "Vertical integration and efficiency: an application to the Italian machine tool industry," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 397-416, February.
    2. Roberto Antonietti, 2016. "From outsourcing to productivity, passing through training: microeconometric evidence from Italy," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(5), pages 407-425, July.
    3. Fabio Pieri, 2016. "Vertical organization of production and firm growth," DEM Working Papers 2016/01, Department of Economics and Management.

    More about this item


    Production Outsourcing; Organizational Governance; Misalignment; Technological Performance; Non-Linearity;

    JEL classification:

    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production
    • L24 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Contracting Out; Joint Ventures
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives

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