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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
Note: ITI
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  1. Antras, Pol, 2003. "Firms, Contracts, and Trade Structure," Scholarly Articles 3196328, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Oliver Hart & Sanford Grossman, 1985. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Working papers 372, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Bernard, Andrew B. & Bradford Jensen, J., 1999. "Exceptional exporter performance: cause, effect, or both?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 1-25, February.
  4. 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.
  5. Antras, Pol, 2005. "Incomplete Contracts and the Product Cycle," Scholarly Articles 3196324, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. 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," NBER Working Papers 11404, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Acemoglu, Daron & Antras, Pol & Helpman, Elhanan, 2007. "Contracts and Technology Adoption," Scholarly Articles 3199063, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1988. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Working papers 495, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Elhanan Helpman, 2006. "Trade, FDI, and the Organization of Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(3), pages 589-630, September.
  12. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2003. "Export versus FDI," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1998, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  13. Pol Antras & Elhanan Helpman, 2004. "Global Sourcing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 552-580, June.
  14. 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.
  15. Jose 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.
  16. Nathan Nunn, 2005. "Relationship Specificity, Incomplete Contracts and the Pattern of Trade," International Trade 0512018, EconWPA.
  17. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2003. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1268-1290, September.
  19. repec:rus:hseeco:122439 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Ronald W. Jones, 2000. "Globalization and the Theory of Input Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026210086x, June.
  21. Feenstra, Robert C & Hanson, Gordon H, 1996. "Globalization, Outsourcing, and Wage Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 240-45, May.
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