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

  • Thomas N. Hubbard
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    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.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w7347.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7347.

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    Date of creation: Sep 1999
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    Publication status: published as Hubbard, Thomas N. "Contractual Form And Market Thickness In Trucking," Rand Journal of Economics, 2001, v32(2,Sumer), 369-386.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7347
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    1. Paul Klemperer, 1987. "The Competitiveness of Markets with Switching Costs," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(1), pages 138-150, Spring.
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    7. Joskow, Paul L, 1987. "Contract Duration and Relationship-Specific Investments: Empirical Evidence from Coal Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 168-85, March.
    8. Paul Joskow, 1984. "Vertical Integration and Long Term Contracts: The Case of Coal Burning Electric Generating Plants," Working papers 361, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    9. Theodore E. Keeler., 1989. "Deregulation and Scale Economies in the U. S. Trucking Industry: An Econometric Extension of the Survivor Principle," Economics Working Papers 89-100, University of California at Berkeley.
    10. Diamond, Peter A., 1971. "A model of price adjustment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 156-168, June.
    11. Bagwell, Kyle & Ramey, Garey, 1994. "Coordination Economies, Advertising, and Search Behavior in Retail Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 498-517, June.
    12. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
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