IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Vertical Scope Revisited: Transaction Costs vs Capabilities & Profit Opportunities in Mortgage Banking


  • Michael G. Jacobides
  • Lorin M. Hitt


What determines vertical scope? Transactions cost economics (TCE) has been the dominant paradigm for understanding "make" vs. "buy" choices. However, the traditional focus on empirically validating or refuting TCE has taken attention away from other possible drivers of scope, and it has rarely allowed us to understand the explanatory power of TCE versus other competing theories. This paper, using a particularly rich panel dataset from the Mortgage Banking industry, explores both the extent to which TCE predictions hold, and their ability to explain the variance in scope, when compared to all other possible drivers of integration. Using some direct measures of transaction costs, we observe that integration does mitigate risks; yet such risks and transaction costs do not seem to drive firm-level decisions of integration in retail production of loans. Rather, capability-driven and capacity- (or limit to growth-) driven considerations explain a significant amount of variance in our sample, under a variety of specifications and tests. We thus conclude that while TCE explanations of vertical scope are important, their impact is dwarfed by capability differences and by the desire of firms to leverage their capabilities and productive capacity by using the market.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael G. Jacobides & Lorin M. Hitt, 2001. "Vertical Scope Revisited: Transaction Costs vs Capabilities & Profit Opportunities in Mortgage Banking," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 01-17, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:pennin:01-17

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    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.
    2. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1994. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 299-322 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Perry, Martin K., 1989. "Vertical integration: Determinants and effects," Handbook of Industrial Organization,in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 183-255 Elsevier.
    4. Dixit, Avinash, 1983. "Vertical integration in a monopolistically competitive industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 63-78, March.
    5. Shelanski, Howard A & Klein, Peter G, 1995. "Empirical Research in Transaction Cost Economics: A Review and Assessment," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(2), pages 335-361, October.
    6. Vernon, John M & Graham, Daniel A, 1971. "Profitability of Monopolization by Vertical Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(4), pages 924-925, July-Aug..
    7. Cheung, Steven N S, 1983. "The Contractual Nature of the Firm," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 1-21, April.
    8. Caillaud, Bernard & Jullien, B & Picard, P, 1995. "Competing Vertical Structures: Precommitment and Renegotiation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(3), pages 621-646, May.
    9. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
    10. Barzel, Yoram, 1982. "Measurement Cost and the Organization of Markets," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(1), pages 27-48, April.
    11. Riordan, Michael H. & Williamson, Oliver E., 1985. "Asset specificity and economic organization," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 365-378, December.
    12. James J. Anton & Dennis A. Yao, 1987. "Second Sourcing and the Experience Curve: Price Competition in Defense Procurement," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(1), pages 57-76, Spring.
    13. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Mortgage Banking; Transaction Costs; Integration; Capabilities; Capacity Constraints; Limits to Growth;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wop:pennin:01-17. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Krichel). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.