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Keiretsu and Relationship-Specific Investment: A Barrier to Trade?

  • Barbara J. Spencer
  • Larry D. Qiu

This paper develops a model of informal procurement within Japanese keiretsu so as to consider effects on intermediate-good imports, such as auto parts. Parts-suppliers make relationship-specific investments that benefit the auto-maker and prices are determined by bargaining after investment has been sunk. Although this investment raises efficiency, it limits the range of imports to less important parts such as tail pipes and it is possible that no parts are imported, despite lower foreign production costs. Lack of information concerning investment rents combined with counterintuitive effects on imports and Japanese production costs could create unwarranted perceptions of a trade barrier.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7572.

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Date of creation: Feb 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Spencer, Barbara J. and Larry D. Qiu. "Keiretsu And Relationship-Specific Investment: A Barrier To Trade?," International Economic Review, 2001, v42(4,Nov), 871-901.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7572
Note: ITI
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  1. Ruth R. Raubitschek & Barbara J. Spencer, 1994. "High-Cost Domestic Joint Ventures and International Competition: Do Domestic Firms Gain?," NBER Working Papers 4804, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Asanuma, Banri, 1989. "Manufacturer-supplier relationships in Japan and the concept of relation-specific skill," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 1-30, March.
  3. Krishna, K & Roy, S & Thursby, M, 1996. "Implementaing Market Access," Papers 96-003, Purdue University, Krannert School of Management - Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).
  4. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver, 1985. "The Cost and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 70, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Marvel, Howard P, 1982. "Exclusive Dealing," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(1), pages 1-25, April.
  6. Taylor, Curtis R & Wiggins, Steven N, 1997. "Competition or Compensation: Supplier Incentives under the American and Japanese Subcontracting Systems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 598-618, September.
  7. Greaney, Theresa M., 1999. "Manipulating market shares: The indirect effects of voluntary import expansions (VIEs)," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 95-113, January.
  8. Perry, Martin K., 1989. "Vertical integration: Determinants and effects," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 183-255 Elsevier.
  9. K.C. Fung, 1991. "Characteristics of Japanese Industrial Groups and Their Potential Impact on U. S . - Japanese Trade," NBER Chapters, in: Empirical Studies of Commercial Policy, pages 137-168 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Banri Asanuma, 1985. "The Organization of Parts Purchases in the Japanese Automotive Industry," Japanese Economy, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 13(4), pages 32-53, July.
  11. McLaren, J, 1996. "Supplier Relations and the Market Context : A Theory of Handshakes," Papers 766, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  12. Weinstein, David E & Yafeh, Yishay, 1995. "Japan's Corporate Groups: Collusion or Competitive? An Empirical Investigation of Keiretsu Behavior," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(4), pages 359-76, December.
  13. Spencer, Barbara J. & Jones, Ronald W., 1992. "Trade and protection in vertically related markets," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-2), pages 31-55, February.
  14. Krishna, Kala & Morgan, John, 1998. "Implementing results-oriented trade policies: The case of the US-Japanese auto parts dispute," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(8), pages 1443-1467, September.
  15. Robert Z. Lawrence, 1991. "Efficient or Exclusionist: The Import Behavior of Japanese Corporate Groups," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(1), pages 311-341.
  16. Fung, K. C., 2002. "International Trade and Bank Groups: Welfare Enhancing or Welfare Reducing?," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 212-226, June.
  17. Qiu, Larry D. & Spencer, Barbara J., 2002. "Keiretsu and relationship-specific investment: implications for market-opening trade policy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 49-79, October.
  18. Robert C. Feenstra & Deng-Shing Huang & Gary G. Hamilton, 1997. "Business Groups and Trade in East Asia: Part 1, Networked Equilibria," NBER Working Papers 5886, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Robert Z. Lawrence, 1993. "Japan's Different Trade Regime: An Analysis with Particular Reference to Seiretsu," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 3-19, Summer.
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