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Cementing Relationships: Vertical Integration, Foreclosure, Productivity, and Prices

  • Ali Hortacsu
  • Chad Syverson

This paper empirically investigates the possible market power effects of vertical integration proposed in the theoretical literature on vertical foreclosure. It uses a rich data set of cement and ready-mixed concrete plants that spans several decades to perform a detailed case study. There is little evidence that foreclosure is quantitatively important in these industries. Instead, prices fall, quantities rise, and entry rates remain unchanged when markets become more integrated. These patterns are consistent, however, with an alternative efficiency-based mechanism. Namely, higher productivity producers are more likely to vertically integrate and are also larger, more likely to survive, and charge lower prices. We find evidence that integrated producers' productivity advantage is tied to improved logistics coordination afforded by large local concrete operations. Interestingly, this benefit is not due to firms' vertical structures per se: non-vertical firms with large local concrete operations have similarly high productivity levels.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12894.

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Date of creation: Feb 2007
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Publication status: published as Ali Hortaçsu & Chad Syverson, 2007. "Cementing Relationships: Vertical Integration, Foreclosure, Productivity, and Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 250-301.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12894
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  1. Tasneem Chipty, 2001. "Vertical Integration, Market Foreclosure, and Consumer Welfare in the Cable Television Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 428-453, June.
  2. Roberts, Mark J. & Supina, Dylan, 1996. "Output price, markups, and producer size," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 909-921, April.
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  4. Ali Hortacsu & Chad Syverson, 2007. "Cementing Relationships: Vertical Integration, Foreclosure, Productivity, and Prices," NBER Working Papers 12894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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