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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.

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Paper provided by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in its series Working Papers with number 2007.58.

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Date of creation: May 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2007.58
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  1. Teece, David J., 1996. "Firm organization, industrial structure, and technological innovation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 193-224, November.
  2. Massimiliano Mazzanti & Sandro Montresor & Paolo Pini, 2006. "The General Profile of the Outsourcing Firm Evidence for a Local Production System of Emilia Romagna," DRUID Working Papers 06-20, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  3. Pol Antràs & Luis Garicano & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2006. "Offshoring in a Knowledge Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(1), pages 31-77, 02.
  4. 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.
  5. Bernd Görzig & Andreas Stephan, 2002. "Outsourcing and Firm-level Performance," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 309, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  6. 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.
  7. Sourafel Girma & Holger Görg, 2003. "Outsourcing, Foreign Ownership and Productivity: Evidence from UK Establishment Level Data," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 361, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  8. Ann Bartel & Saul Lach & Nachum Sicherman, 2005. "Outsourcing and Technological Change," NBER Working Papers 11158, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Görg, Holger & Hanley, Aoife, 2004. "Does Outsourcing Increase Profitability?," IZA Discussion Papers 1372, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Swenson, Deborah L, 2000. "Firm Outsourcing Decisions: Evidence from U.S. Foreign Trade Zones," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 38(2), pages 175-89, April.
  13. Glass, Amy Jocelyn & Saggi, Kamal, 2001. "Innovation and wage effects of international outsourcing," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 67-86, January.
  14. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Integration Versus Outsourcing In Industry Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 85-120, February.
  15. repec:hrv:faseco:4784031 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. 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.
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