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Vertical integration, supplier behavior, and quality upgrading among exporters

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This paper studies the relationship between a firm’s organizational structure and output quality. The setting is a large manufacturing sector in Peru where plants produce a vertically differentiated but otherwise homogeneous product for export: fishmeal. We link customs data to plant level data on each shipment’s quality grade, transaction level data on supplies, and GPS measures of supplier (fishing boat) behavior.We start by documenting a robust association between the quality grade of a firm’s exports and the share of its inputs that comes from vertically integrated suppliers at the time of production. To understand the source of this relationship, we first show that classical theories of the firm predict that, in incomplete contracts settings, owning productive assets upstream may help a subset of downstream manufacturers attempting to produce high quality output to incentivize quality-effort from the assets’ operators. This explanation finds empirical support: in a given supplier-plant pair, the supplier delivers higher quality inputs (fresher fish) when integrated, and does so comparatively more during periods when (i) the plant aims to produce high quality output, and/or (ii) exogenous variation in upstream production (plankton) conditions makes quality-effort more costly. Finally, we show that firms source more of their inputs from integrated suppliers when faced with firm-specific shocks to demand for high quality exports. These results document an overlooked motivation for vertical integration and that strategic changes in organizational structure help manufacturers in developing countries achieve export success.

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  • Gianmarco León & Christopher Hansman & Jonas Hjort & Matthieu Teachout, 2017. "Vertical integration, supplier behavior, and quality upgrading among exporters," Economics Working Papers 1562, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1562
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    3. Emlinger, Charlotte & Latouche, Karine, 2022. "When quality management helps agri-food firms to export," 2022 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, Anaheim, California 322407, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
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    6. Xiaojing Li & Xianli Xia & Jiazhen Ren, 2022. "Can the Participation in Quality Certification of Agricultural Products Drive the Green Production Transition?," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(17), pages 1-16, September.
    7. Dante Donati, 2022. "The End of Tourist Traps: A Natural Experiment on the Impact of Tripadvisor on Quality Upgrading," CESifo Working Paper Series 9834, CESifo.
    8. Paulo Bastos & Joana Silva & Eric Verhoogen, 2018. "Export Destinations and Input Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(2), pages 353-392, February.
    9. Hansen, Benjamin & Miller, Keaton & Weber, Caroline, 2022. "Vertical integration and production inefficiency in the presence of a gross receipts tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 212(C).
    10. Christopher Hansman & Jonas Hjort & Gianmarco León, 2019. "Interlinked firms and the consequences of piecemeal regulation," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 876-916.
    11. Abate, Gashaw T. & Bernard, Tanguy & de Janvry, Alain & Sadoulet, Elisabeth & Trachtman, Carly, 2021. "Introducing quality certification in staple food markets in Sub-Saharan Africa: Four conditions for successful implementation," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 105(C).
    12. He, Huanlang & Yu, Zhihao, 2018. "Product quality, incomplete contract and the product cycle," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 160-167.
    13. Jie Bai & Ludovica Gazze & Yukun Wang, 2019. "Collective Reputation in Trade: Evidence from the Chinese Dairy Industry," CID Working Papers 366, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
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    Keywords

    Vertical integration; quality upgrading; export; Peru;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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