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Contractibility and Asset Ownership: On-Board Computers and Governance in U.S. Trucking

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  • George P. Baker
  • Thomas N. Hubbard

Abstract

We investigate how the contractibility of actions affecting the value of an asset affects asset ownership. We examine this by testing how on-board computer (OBC) adoption affects truck ownership. We develop and test the proposition that adoption should lead to less ownership by drivers, particularly for hauls where drivers have the greatest incentive to drive in non-optimal ways or engage in rent-seeking behavior. We find evidence in favor: OBC adoption leads to less driver ownership, especially for long hauls and hauls that use specialized trailers. We also find that non-owner drivers with OBCs drive better than those without them. These results suggest that technology-enabled increases in contractibility may lead to less independent contracting and larger firms.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7634 Note: CF IO
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972. "Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-795, December.
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    5. Deaton, Angus, 1985. "Panel data from time series of cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 109-126.
    6. 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.
    7. Thomas N. Hubbard, 2000. "The Demand for Monitoring Technologies: The Case of Trucking," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 533-560.
    8. Francine Lafontaine, 1992. "Agency Theory and Franchising: Some Empirical Results," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(2), pages 263-283, Summer.
    9. Jack A. Nickerson & Brian S. Silverman, 2003. "Why aren't all Truck Drivers Owner-Operators? Asset Ownership and the Employment Relation in Interstate for-hire Trucking," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(1), pages 91-118, March.
    10. Andrea Shepard, 1993. "Contractual Form, Retail Price, and Asset Characteristics in Gasoline Retailing," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(1), pages 58-77, Spring.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Daron Acemoglu & Philippe Aghion & Rachel Griffith & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2010. "Vertical Integration and Technology: Theory and Evidence," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(5), pages 989-1033, September.
    2. Brickley, James A. & Linck, James S. & Smith, Clifford Jr., 2003. "Boundaries of the firm: evidence from the banking industry," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 351-383, December.
    3. Gillen, David & Haynes, Matt, 2002. "Public and Private Benefits in Intelligent Transportation Systems/Commercial Vehicle Operations: Electronic Clearance and Supply Chain Management," Institute of Transportation Studies, Research Reports, Working Papers, Proceedings qt8qt8w8kp, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Berkeley.
    4. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 2005. "Ownership and Control in Outsourcing to China: Estimating the Property-Rights Theory of the Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 729-761.
    5. Oliver Hart, 2001. "Norms and the Theory of the Firm," NBER Working Papers 8286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. George Baker & Thomas N. Hubbard, 2001. "Empirical Strategies in Contract Economics: Information and the Boundary of the Firm," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 189-194, May.
    7. Joseph Chen & Harrison Hong & Ming Huang & Jeffrey D. Kubik, 2004. "Does Fund Size Erode Mutual Fund Performance? The Role of Liquidity and Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1276-1302, December.
    8. Benito Arruñada & Manuel González-Díaz & Alberto Fernández, 2004. "Determinants of organizational form: transaction costs and institutions in the European trucking industry," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(6), pages 867-882, December.
    9. 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.
    10. Efraim Benmelech & Mark J. Garmaise & Tobias J. Moskowitz, 2005. "Do Liquidation Values Affect Financial Contracts? Evidence from Commercial Loan Contracts and Zoning Regulation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 1121-1154.
    11. Wang, T, 2009. "Ownership, Control, and Incentive," Economics Discussion Papers 2955, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    12. David Levinson & Reinaldo Garcia & Kathy Carlson, 2001. "A Framework for Assessing Public Private Partnerships," Working Papers 200712, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
    13. Thomas N. Hubbard, 2001. "Information, Decisions, and Productivity: On-Board Computers and Capacity Utilization in Trucking," NBER Working Papers 8525, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. 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.
    15. 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:

    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure

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