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The Structure and Evolution of Buyer-Supplier Networks

  • Mizuno, Takayuki
  • Souma, Wataru
  • Watanabe, Tsutomu
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    In this paper, we investigate the structure and evolution of customer-supplier networks in Japan using a unique dataset that contains information on customer and supplier linkages for more than 500,000 incorporated non-financial firms for the five years from 2008 to 2012. We find, first, that the number of customer links is unequal across firms; the customer link distribution has a power-law tail with an exponent of unity (i.e., it follows Zipf’s law). We interpret this as implying that competition among firms to acquire new customers yields winners with a large number of customers, as well as losers with fewer customers. We also show that the shortest path length for any pair of firms is, on average, 4.3 links. Second, we find that link switching is relatively rare. Our estimates indicate that the survival rate per year for customer links is 92 percent and for supplier links 93 percent. Third and finally, we find that firm growth rates tend to be more highly correlated the closer two firms are to each other in a customer-supplier network (i.e., the smaller is the shortest path length for the two firms). This suggests that a non-negligible portion of fluctuations in firm growth stems from the propagation of microeconomic shocks - shocks affecting only a particular firm - through customer-supplier chains.

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    File URL: http://hermes-ir.lib.hit-u.ac.jp/rs/bitstream/10086/26137/1/ifn_wp027.pdf
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    Paper provided by Center for Interfirm Network, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University in its series Working Paper Series with number 27.

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    Length: 23 p.
    Date of creation: Jan 2014
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hit:cinwps:27
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    1. Daron Acemoglu & Asuman Ozdaglar & Alireza Tahbaz-Salehi, 2015. "Systemic Risk and Stability in Financial Networks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(2), pages 564-608, February.
    2. Bryan Kelly & Hanno Lustig & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, 2013. "Firm Volatility in Granular Networks," NBER Working Papers 19466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Leena Rudanko & Francois Gourio, 2010. "Customer Capital," 2010 Meeting Papers 121, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Vasco M Carvalho, 2008. "Aggregate Fluctuations and the Network Structure of Intersectoral Trade," 2008 Meeting Papers 1062, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Andrew T. Foerster & Pierre-Daniel G. Sarte & Mark W. Watson, 2011. "Sectoral versus Aggregate Shocks: A Structural Factor Analysis of Industrial Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(1), pages 1 - 38.
    6. Daron Acemoglu & Vasco Carvalho & Asuman Ozdaglar & Alireza Tahbaz-Salehi, 2011. "The Network Origins of Aggregate Fluctuations," Working Papers 587, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    7. Y. Fujiwara & H. Aoyama, 2010. "Large-scale structure of a nation-wide production network," The European Physical Journal B - Condensed Matter and Complex Systems, Springer, vol. 77(4), pages 565-580, October.
    8. Thomas Chaney, 2008. "Distorted Gravity: The Intensive and Extensive Margins of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1707-21, September.
    9. Julian di Giovanni & Andrei A. Levchenko, 2010. "Putting the Parts Together: Trade, Vertical Linkages, and Business Cycle Comovement," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 95-124, April.
    10. Saito, Yukiko Umeno & Watanabe, Tsutomu & Iwamura, Mitsuru, 2007. "Do larger firms have more interfirm relationships?," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 383(1), pages 158-163.
    11. Daron Acemoglu & Asuman E. Ozdaglar & Alireza Tahbaz-Salehi, 2014. "The Network Origins of Large Economic Downturns," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000944, David K. Levine.
    12. Battiston, Stefano & Delli Gatti, Domenico & Gallegati, Mauro & Greenwald, Bruce & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2007. "Credit chains and bankruptcy propagation in production networks," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 2061-2084, June.
    13. Leena Rudanko & Francois Gourio, 2011. "Customer capital and the business cycle," 2011 Meeting Papers 120, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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