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The Value of Relational Adaptation in Outsourcing: Evidence from the 2008 shock to the US Airline Industry

Listed author(s):
  • GIL, Ricard
  • KIM, Myongjim
  • ZANARONE, Giorgio

In this paper, we theoretically analyze, and empirically test for, the importance of relational adaptation in outsourcing relationships using the airline industry as case study. In the airline industry, adaptation of flight schedules is necessary in the presence of bad weather conditions. When major carriers outsource to independent regionals, conflicts over these adaptation decisions typically arise. Moreover, the urgency of needed adjustments requires that adaptation be informal and hence enforced relationally. Our model shows that for relational adaptation to be self-enforcing, the long-term value of the relationship between a major and a regional airline must be at least as large as the regional airline’s cost of adapting flight schedules across joint routes. Thus, when facing a negative economic shock, the major is more likely to preserve routes outsourced to regional airlines that have higher adaptation costs, and hence higher relationship value. We analyze the evolution of U.S. airline networks around the 2008 financial crisis, and we find that consistent with our predictions, routes outsourced to regional networks with worse average weather, and hence higher adaptation costs, were more likely to survive the shock.

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File URL: http://hermes-ir.lib.hit-u.ac.jp/rs/bitstream/10086/28336/1/070_hiasDP-E-32.pdf
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Paper provided by Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study, Hitotsubashi University in its series Discussion paper series with number HIAS-E-32.

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Length: 59, [25] p.
Date of creation: Sep 2016
Handle: RePEc:hit:hiasdp:hias-e-32
Note: September 2016; revised February 2017
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  1. Masten, Scott E & Crocker, Keith J, 1985. "Efficient Adaptation in Long-term Contracts: Take-or-Pay Provisions for Natural Gas," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 1083-1093, December.
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  3. Giorgio Zanarone, 2013. "Contract Adaptation under Legal Constraints," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(4), pages 799-834, August.
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  5. Macchiavello, Rocco & Morjaria, Ameet, 2013. "The Value of Relationships: Evidence from a Supply Shock to Kenyan Rose Exports," CEPR Discussion Papers 9531, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Jonathan Levin, 2002. "Multilateral Contracting and the Employment Relationship," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 1075-1103.
  7. Schwartz, Alan, 1992. "Relational Contracts in the Courts: An Analysis of Incomplete Agreements and Judicial Strategies," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 271-318, June.
  8. Susan Helper & Rebecca Henderson, 2014. "Management Practices, Relational Contracts, and the Decline of General Motors," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(1), pages 49-72, Winter.
  9. Arrunada, Benito & Garicano, Luis & Vazquez, Luis, 2001. "Contractual Allocation of Decision Rights and Incentives: The Case of Automobile Distribution," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 257-284, April.
  10. W. Bentley MacLeod, 2007. "Reputations, Relationships, and Contract Enforcement," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 595-628, September.
  11. Silke J. Forbes & Mara Lederman, 2010. "Does vertical integration affect firm performance? Evidence from the airline industry," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 41(4), pages 765-790.
  12. Giorgio Zanarone, 2009. "Vertical Restraints and the Law: Evidence from Automobile Franchising," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(4), pages 691-700, November.
  13. Surajeet Chakravarty & W. Bentley MacLeod, 2008. "Contracting in the Shadow of the Law," NBER Working Papers 13960, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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