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Make Versus Buy in Trucking: Asset Ownership, Job Design and Information

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  • George P. Baker
  • Thomas N. Hubbard

Abstract

Explaining patterns of asset ownership in the economy is a central goal of both organizational economics and industrial organization. We develop a model of asset ownership in trucking, which we test by examining how the adoption of different classes of on-board computers (OBCs) between 1987 and 1997 influenced whether shippers use their own trucks for hauls or contract with for-hire carriers. We find that OBCs' incentive-improving features pushed hauls toward private carriage, but their resource-allocation-improving features pushed them toward for-hire carriage. We conclude that ownership patterns in trucking reflect the importance of both incomplete contracts (Grossman and Hart (1986)) and of job design and measurement issues (Holmstrom and Milgrom (1994)).

Suggested Citation

  • George P. Baker & Thomas N. Hubbard, 2002. "Make Versus Buy in Trucking: Asset Ownership, Job Design and Information," NBER Working Papers 8727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8727
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Deaton, Angus, 1985. "Panel data from time series of cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 109-126.
    3. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
    4. Holmstrom, Bengt, 1999. "The Firm as a Subeconomy," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 74-102, April.
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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. Earle, John S. & Pagano, Ugo & Lesi, Maria, 2006. "Information technology, organizational form, and transition to the market," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(4), pages 471-489, August.
    3. Matthew Dey & Susan Houseman & Anne Polivka, 2010. "What Do We Know About Contracting Out in the United States? Evidence from Household and Establishment Surveys," NBER Chapters,in: Labor in the New Economy, pages 267-304 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Laura Abramovsky & Rachel Griffith, 2006. "Outsourcing and Offshoring of Business Services: How Important is ICT?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(2-3), pages 594-601, 04-05.
    5. Garicano, Luis & Hubbard, Thomas, 2003. "Specialization, Firms and Markets: The division of Labour Between and Within Law Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 3699, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Laura Abramovsky & Rachel Griffith, 2009. "ICT, corporate restructuring and productivity," IFS Working Papers W09/10, Institute for Fiscal Studies.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure

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