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The Organization of Supply: a Vertical Equilibrium Analysis


  • Nadav Levy


In this paper I study how the make-or-buy decision of a firm depends on the organization of its peers. I consider a multi-firm framework in which firms choose whether to integrate into the supply of an intermediate input or to outsource its production, and choose the size of their supplier network if outsourcing. Firms find it optimal to share the same set of suppliers, as there are economies of scope in investment to suppliers taking multiple designs. These economies are due to spillovers of technical or operational know-how between projects and to savings in the setup costs on physical capital. The model admits multiple vertical equilibria that are Pareto-ranked, the one with the highest level of outsourcing being most efficient. Outsourcing is more likely in larger markets and when the economies of scope are stronger. The size of the optimal supplier network however typically decreases when the spillovers are stronger. These findings provide insight into the patterns of reorganization of vertical supply relations observed over the last two decades.

Suggested Citation

  • Nadav Levy, 2004. "The Organization of Supply: a Vertical Equilibrium Analysis," Discussion Papers 04-01, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:nya:albaec:04-01

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-1158, December.
    2. Robert C. Feenstra, 1998. "Integration of Trade and Disintegration of Production in the Global Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 31-50, Fall.
    3. Thomas J. Holmes, 1999. "Localization Of Industry And Vertical Disintegration," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(2), pages 314-325, May.
    4. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 1998. "Power in a Theory of the Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 387-432.
    5. 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.
    6. Abraham, Katharine G & Taylor, Susan K, 1996. "Firms' Use of Outside Contractors: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(3), pages 394-424, July.
    7. J. Yannis Bakos & Erik Brynjolfsson, 1997. "From Vendors to Partners: Information Technology and Incomplete Contracts in Buyer-Supplier Relationships," Working Paper Series 154, MIT Center for Coordination Science.
    8. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Integration versus Outsourcing in Industry Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 85-120.
    9. George J. Stigler, 1951. "The Division of Labor is Limited by the Extent of the Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59, pages 185-185.
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    Cited by:

    1. João Teixeira, 2014. "Outsourcing with long term contracts: capital structure and product market competition effects," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 42(2), pages 327-356, February.

    More about this item


    Outsourcing; Vertical Integration; Spillovers; Supply relations;

    JEL classification:

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

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