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How Wide is the Scope of Hold-Up-Based Theories? Contractual Form and Market Thickness in Trucking

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  • Thomas N. Hubbard

Abstract

How far do the contractual implications of hold-up-based theories (Klein, Crawford, and Alchian (1978), Williamson (1979, 1985)) extend? I investigate this in the context of trucking. Quasi-rents in trucking are generally smaller than in the contexts studied in the previous empirical literature. They vary with hauls' distance and the thickness of local markets. I find that doubling the thickness of the market increases the likelihood that simple spot arrangements govern transactions by about 30% for long hauls. I find weaker evidence of relationships between local market thickness and contractual form for short hauls -- hauls for which quasi-rents are particularly small. Contracts' role as protectors of quasi-rents becomes less important as quasi-rents decrease, but exists over a surprisingly large range.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas N. Hubbard, 1999. "How Wide is the Scope of Hold-Up-Based Theories? Contractual Form and Market Thickness in Trucking," NBER Working Papers 7347, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7347
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    Cited by:

    1. Chen-Yu Chang & Graham Ive, 2007. "Reversal of bargaining power in construction projects: meaning, existence and implications," Construction Management and Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(8), pages 845-855.
    2. George P. Baker & Thomas N. Hubbard, 2000. "Contractibility and Asset Ownership: On-Board Computers and Governance in U.S. Trucking," NBER Working Papers 7634, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Francine Lafontaine & Scott E. Masten, 2002. "Contracting in the Absence of Specific Investments and Moral Hazard: Understanding Carrier-Driver Relations in U.S. Trucking," NBER Working Papers 8859, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Shah, Nilopa & Brueckner, Jan K., 2012. "Price and frequency competition in freight transportation," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 46(6), pages 938-953.
    5. Amirah El-Haddad, 2008. "Vertical Integration and Institutional Constraints on Firm Behavior: The Case of the Garment Industry in Egypt," Working Papers 383, Economic Research Forum, revised 01 Jan 2008.
    6. Pierre-André Chiappori & Bernard Salanié, 2002. "Testing Contract Theory : A Survey of Some Recent Work," Working Papers 2002-11, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.
    7. Woodruff, Christopher, 2002. "Non-contractible investments and vertical integration in the Mexican footwear industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(8), pages 1197-1224, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L42 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Vertical Restraints; Resale Price Maintenance; Quantity Discounts

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