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Contractual Frictions and Global Sourcing

  • Pol Antràs
  • Elhanan Helpman

We generalize the Antras and Helpman (2004) model of the international organization of production in order to accommodate varying degrees of contractual frictions. In particular, we allow the degree of contractibility to vary across inputs and countries. A continuum of firms with heterogeneous productivities decide whether to integrate or outsource the production of intermediate inputs, and from which country to source them. Final-good producers and their suppliers make relationship-specific investments which are only partially contractible, both in an integrated firm and in an arm's-length relationship. We describe equilibria in which firms with different productivity levels choose different ownership structures and supplier locations, and then study the effects of changes in the quality of contractual institutions on the relative prevalence of these organizational forms. Better contracting institutions in the South raise the prevalence of offshoring, but may reduce the relative prevalence of FDI or foreign outsourcing. The impact on the composition of offshoring depends on whether the institutional improvement affects disproportionately the contractibility of a particular input. A key message of the paper is that improvements in the contractibility of inputs controlled by final-good producers have different effects than improvements in the contractibility of inputs controlled by suppliers.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12747.

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Date of creation: Dec 2006
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Publication status: published as Helpman, E., D. Marin, and T. Verdier (eds.) The Organization of Firms in a Global Economy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12747
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  1. Mark J. Melitz, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," NBER Working Papers 8881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Acemoglu, Daron & Antras, Pol & Helpman, Elhanan, 2007. "Contracts and Technology Adoption," Scholarly Articles 3199063, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 1997. "Exceptional Exporter Performance: Cause, Effect, or Both?," NBER Working Papers 6272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Grossman, Sanford J. & Hart, Oliver D., 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Scholarly Articles 3450060, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Pol Antràs, 2003. "Incomplete Contracts and the Product Cycle," NBER Working Papers 9945, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Elhanan Helpman, 2006. "Trade, FDI, and the Organization of Firms," NBER Working Papers 12091, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-58, December.
  8. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 105, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  9. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 1996. "Globalization, Outsourcing, and Wage Inequality," NBER Working Papers 5424, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc J & Yeaple, Stephen R, 2003. "Export versus FDI," CEPR Discussion Papers 3741, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Peter K. Schott, 2005. "Importers, Exporters, and Multinationals: A Portrait of Firms in the U.S. that Trade Goods," Working Paper Series WP05-10, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  12. Nathan Nunn, 2005. "Relationship Specificity, Incomplete Contracts and the Pattern of Trade," International Trade 0512018, EconWPA.
  13. Ronald W. Jones, 2000. "Globalization and the Theory of Input Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026210086x.
  14. Antras, Pol, 2003. "Firms, Contracts, and Trade Structure," Scholarly Articles 3196328, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  15. Michael P. Keane & Susan E. Feinberg, 2006. "Accounting for the Growth of MNC-Based Trade Using a Structural Model of U.S. MNCs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1515-1558, December.
  16. repec:rus:hseeco:122439 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Antràs, Pol & Helpman, Elhanan, 2004. "Global Sourcing," CEPR Discussion Papers 4170, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. Hummels, David & Ishii, Jun & Yi, Kei-Mu, 2001. "The nature and growth of vertical specialization in world trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 75-96, June.
  19. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Jose Manuel Campa & Linda S. Goldberg, 1997. "The evolving external orientation of manufacturing: a profile of four countries," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Jul, pages 53-81.
  21. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2004. "Export Versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 300-316, March.
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