Title: Outsourcing when investments are specific and complementary
Authors: Lileeva, Alla
Van Biesebroeck, Jo
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Series Title: NBER working paper 14477 pages:1-48
Abstract: Using the universe of large Canadian manufacturing firms in 1988 and 1996, we investigate to what extent outsourcing decision can be explained by a simple property rights model. The unique availability of disaggregate information on outputs as well as inputs permits the construction of a very detailed measure of vertical integration. We also construct five different measures of technological intensity to proxy for investments that are likely to be specific to a buyer-seller relationship. A theoretical model that allows for varying degrees of investment specificity and for complementarities---an externality between buyer and supplier investments---guides the analysis. Our main findings are that (i) greater specificity makes outsourcing less likely; (ii) complementarities between the investments of the buyer and the seller are also associated with less outsourcing; (iii) property rights predictions on the link between investment intensities and optimal ownership are only supported for transactions with low complementarities. High specificity and a low risk of appropriation strengthen the predictions in the model and in the data.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: ER
Appears in Collections:Research Center of Econometrics, Leuven
Department of Economics, Leuven - miscellaneous

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