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Relational Contracts and Supplier Turnover in the Global Economy

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  • Fischer, Christian
  • Suedekum, Jens
  • Defever, Fabrice

Abstract

Headquarters and their specialized component suppliers have a vital interest in establishing long-term collaborations. When formal contracts are not enforceable, such efficiency-enhancing cooperations can be established via informal agreements, but relational contracts have been largely ignored in the literature on the international organization of value chains. In this paper, we develop a dynamic property rights model of global sourcing. A domestic headquarter collaborates with a foreign input supplier and makes two decisions in every period: i) whether to engage in a costly search for a better partner, and ii) whether to make a non-binding offer to overcome hold-up problems. Our key result is that the possibility to switch partners crucially affects the contractual nature of buyer-supplier relationships. In particular, some patient firms do not immediately establish a relational contract, but only when they decide to stop searching and thus launch a long-term collaboration with their supplier. From our model, we develop an instrumental variable estimation strategy that we apply using transaction-level data of fresh Chinese exporters to the US. We obtain empirical evidence in line with the theoretical prediction of a positive causal effect of match durations on relational contracting.

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  • Fischer, Christian & Suedekum, Jens & Defever, Fabrice, 2016. "Relational Contracts and Supplier Turnover in the Global Economy," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145504, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc16:145504
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    Cited by:

    1. Defever, Fabrice & Fischer, Christian & Suedekum, Jens, 2017. "Supplier search and re-matching in global sourcing: theory and evidence from China," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86605, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Nowak, Verena, 2016. "Integration or Outsourcing: Combining Ex Ante Distortions and Ex Post Inefficiencies," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145897, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Kukharskyy, Bohdan, 2016. "Relational contracts and global sourcing," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 123-147.
    4. Bonnet, Céline & Schain, Jan Philip, 2017. "An empirical analysis of mergers: Efficiency gains and impact on consumer prices," DICE Discussion Papers 244, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).

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    JEL classification:

    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production

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