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

  • George P. Baker
  • Thomas N. Hubbard
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    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.

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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7634.

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    Date of creation: Apr 2000
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: published as Baker, George P. and Thomas N. Hubbard. "Contractibility And Asset Ownership: On-board Computers And Governance In U.S. Trucking," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2004, v119(4,Nov), 1443-1479.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7634
    Note: CF IO
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    1. Armen A. Alchian & Harold Demsetz, 1971. "Production, Information Costs and Economic Organizations," UCLA Economics Working Papers 10A, UCLA Department of Economics.
    2. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
    3. 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.
    4. Francine Lafontaine, 1992. "Agency Theory and Franchising: Some Empirical Results," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(2), pages 263-283, Summer.
    5. Atreya Chakraborty & Mark Kazarosian, 1999. "Product Differentiation and the Use of Information Technology: New Evidence from the Trucking Industry," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 433, Boston College Department of Economics.
    6. Brickley, James A. & Dark, Frederick H., 1987. "The choice of organizational form The case of franchising," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 401-420, June.
    7. Deaton, Angus, 1985. "Panel data from time series of cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 109-126.
    8. 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.
    9. Thomas N. Hubbard, 2000. "The Demand For Monitoring Technologies: The Case Of Trucking," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(2), pages 533-560, May.
    10. 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, 03.
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