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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. Martin, Stephen & Normann, Hans-Theo & Snyder, Christopher M, 2001. "Vertical Foreclosure in Experimental Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(3), pages 466-96, Autumn.
  2. Bolton, Patrick & Whinston, Michael D, 1993. "Incomplete Contracts, Vertical Integration, and Supply Assurance," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 121-48, January.
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  8. Ali Hortacsu & Chad Syverson, 2008. "Cementing Relationships: Vertical Integration, Foreclosure, Productivity, and Prices," Working Papers 08-41, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  9. Justine S. Hastings, 2004. "Vertical Relationships and Competition in Retail Gasoline Markets: Empirical Evidence from Contract Changes in Southern California," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 317-328, March.
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  19. G. Steven Olley & Ariel Pakes, 1992. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," NBER Working Papers 3977, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Allen, Bruce T, 1971. "Vertical Integration and Market Foreclosure: The Case of Cement and Concrete," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 251-74, April.
  21. McBride, Mark E, 1983. "Spatial Competition and Vertical Integration: Cement and Concrete Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1011-22, December.
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  25. Eslava, Marcela & Haltiwanger Jr, John C & Kugler, Adriana D. & Kugler, Maurice, 2004. "The Effects of Structural Reforms on Productivity- and Profitability-Enhancing Reallocation: Evidence from Colombia," CEPR Discussion Papers 4569, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  26. Foster, Lucia & Haltiwanger, John C. & Syverson, Chad, 2005. "Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?," IZA Discussion Papers 1705, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  35. Vernon, John M & Graham, Daniel A, 1971. "Profitability of Monopolization by Vertical Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(4), pages 924-25, July-Aug..
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