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Contracts and the Division of Labor

Author

Listed:
  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Pol Antras
  • Elhanan Helpman

Abstract

We present a tractable framework for the analysis of the relationship between contract incom- pleteness, technological complementarities and the division of labor. In the model economy, a firm decides the division of labor and contracts with its worker-suppliers on a subset of activities they have to perform. Worker-suppliers choose their investment levels in the remaining activities anticipating the ex post bargaining equilibrium. We show that greater contract incompleteness reduces both the division of labor and the equilibrium level of productivity given the division of labor. The impact of contract incompleteness is greater when the tasks performed by di¤erent workers are more complementary. We also discuss the e¤ect of imperfect credit markets on the division of labor and productivity, and study the choice between the employment relationship versus an organizational form relying on outside contracting. Finally, we derive the implications of our framework for productivity di¤erences and comparative advantage across countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Daron Acemoglu & Pol Antras & Elhanan Helpman, 2005. "Contracts and the Division of Labor," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2074, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:2074
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Daron Acemoglu & Pol Antràs & Elhanan Helpman, 2007. "Contracts and Technology Adoption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 916-943, June.
    2. Pfeiffer, Friedhelm, 2005. "Existenzgründungen: Ein Weg zur Beschäftigungsförderung?," ZEW Discussion Papers 05-71, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    3. Dalia Marin, 2006. "A New International Division of Labor in Europe: Outsourcing and Offshoring to Eastern Europe," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(2-3), pages 612-622, 04-05.
    4. Bental, Benjamin & Demougin, Dominique, 2010. "Declining labor shares and bargaining power: An institutional explanation," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 443-456, March.
    5. Raouf BOUCEKKINE & Patricia, CRIFO & Claudio, MATTALIA, 2007. "Technological Progress, Organizational Change and the Size of the Human Resources Departement," Discussion Papers (ECON - Département des Sciences Economiques) 2007047, Université catholique de Louvain, Département des Sciences Economiques.
    6. Marin, Dalia, 2005. "A New International Division of Labor in Europe: Offshoring and Outsourcing to Eastern Europe," Discussion Papers in Economics 714, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    7. Nathan Nunn, 2007. "Relationship-Specificity, Incomplete Contracts, and the Pattern of Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(2), pages 569-600.
    8. Pfeiffer, Friedhelm, 2005. "Existenzgründungen: Ein Weg zur Beschäftigungsförderung? (Firm foundation * a way to enhance employment?)," Zeitschrift für ArbeitsmarktForschung - Journal for Labour Market Research, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 38(2/3), pages 325-340.
    9. repec:iab:iabzaf:v:38:i:2/3:p:325-340 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Macchiavello, Rocco, 2007. "Financial Constraints and the Costs and Benefits of Vertical Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 6104, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Benjamin Bental & Dominique Demougin, 2006. "Institutions, Bargaining Power and Labor Shares," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2006-009, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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