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Do Prices Determine Vertical Integration? Evidence from Trade Policy

Author

Listed:
  • Laura Alfaro

    (Harvard Business School, Business, Government and the International Economy Unit)

  • Paola Conconi

    (Universit´e Libre de Bruxelles (ECARES) and CEPR)

  • Harald Fadinger

    (University of Vienna)

  • Andrew F. Newman

    (Boston University and CEPR)

Abstract

What is the relationship between product prices and vertical integration? While the literature has focused on how integration affects prices, this paper shows that prices can affect integration. Many theories in organizational economics and industrial organization posit that integration, while costly, increases productivity. If true, it follows from firms' maximizing behavior that higher prices cause firms to choose more integration. The reason is that at low prices, increases in revenue resulting from enhanced productivity are too small to justify the cost, whereas at higher prices, the revenue benefit exceeds the cost. Trade policy provides a source of exogenous price variation to assess the validity of this prediction: higher tariffs should lead to higher prices and therefore to more integration. We construct firm-level indices of vertical integration for a large set of countries and industries and exploit cross-section and time-series variation in import tariffs to examine their impact on firm boundaries. Our empirical results provide strong support for the view that output prices are a key determinant of vertical integration.

Suggested Citation

  • Laura Alfaro & Paola Conconi & Harald Fadinger & Andrew F. Newman, 2010. "Do Prices Determine Vertical Integration? Evidence from Trade Policy," Harvard Business School Working Papers 10-060, Harvard Business School, revised May 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:10-060
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Scott Bradford, 2003. "Paying the Price: Final Goods Protection in OECD Countries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(1), pages 24-37, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Buehler, Stefan & Burghardt, Dirk, 2013. "Globalization and Vertical Structure: An Empirical Investigation," Economics Working Paper Series 1310, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    2. Johannes Boehm, 2014. "The Impact of Contract Enforcement Costs on Outsourcing and Aggregate Productivity," 2014 Meeting Papers 340, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Laura Alfaro & Pol Antràs & Davin Chor & Paola Conconi, 2019. "Internalizing Global Value Chains: A Firm-Level Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 127(2), pages 508-559.
    4. Johannes Boehm, 2014. "The Impact of Contract Enforcement Costs on Outsourcing and Aggregate Productivity," 2014 Meeting Papers 340, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Conconi, Paola & Sapir, André & Zanardi, Maurizio, 2016. "The internationalization process of firms: From exports to FDI," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 16-30.
    6. Galdon-Sanchez, Jose Enrique & Gil, Ricard & Bayo-Moriones, Alberto, 2015. "Outsourcing of peripheral services: Evidence from Spanish manufacturing plant-level data," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 328-344.
    7. Serfes, Konstantinos, 2013. "A Price Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration under Two-Sided Productivity Heterogeneity," School of Economics Working Paper Series 2013-6, LeBow College of Business, Drexel University, revised 06 Mar 2014.
    8. Johannes Boehm, 2014. "The Impact of Contract Enforcement Costs on Outsourcing and Aggregate Productivity," 2014 Meeting Papers 340, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Johannes Boehm, 2014. "The Impact of Contract Enforcement Costs on Outsourcing and Aggregate Productivity," 2014 Meeting Papers 340, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    10. Del Prete, Davide & Rungi, Armando, 2017. "Organizing the global value chain: A firm-level test," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 16-30.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Theory of the firm; vertical integration; product prices.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior

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