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A Theory of the Firm based on Partner Displacement

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  • Thomas F. Hellmann
  • Veikko Thiele

Abstract

We develop a new theory of the firm where asset owners sometimes want to change partners ex-post. The model identifies a fundamental trade-off between (i) a "displacement externality" under non-integration, where a partner leaves a relationship even though the benefit is worth less than the loss to the displaced partner, and (ii), a "retention externality" under integration, where a partner inefficiently retains the other. Renegotiation cannot eliminate these inefficiencies when agents are wealth constrained. When there is more asset specificity, displacement externalities matter more and retention externality less, so that integration becomes more attractive. Our model also predicts that integration always provides stronger incentives for specific investments, and that wealthy owners actually want to commit to ex-post wealth constraints. Our analysis differs from the received theories of the firm because of our emphasis on dynamic partner changes.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas F. Hellmann & Veikko Thiele, 2012. "A Theory of the Firm based on Partner Displacement," NBER Working Papers 18495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18495
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • M20 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Economics - - - General

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