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Vertical Integration and The Scope of the Firm. OUTLINE. Transactions Costs and the Scope of the Firm --Why does the firm exist? --The trend over time The Costs and Benefits of Vertical Integration Designing Vertical Relationships: Long-term Contracts and Quasi-Vertical Integration

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Vertical Integration and The Scope of the Firm

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Vertical Integration and The Scope of the Firm

OUTLINE

  • Transactions Costs and the Scope of the Firm

    --Why does the firm exist?

    --The trend over time

  • The Costs and Benefits of Vertical Integration

  • Designing Vertical Relationships: Long-term Contracts and Quasi-Vertical Integration

  • Recent Trends


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From Business Strategy to Corporate Strategy: The Scope of the Firm

  • Business Strategy is concerned with how a firm computes within a particular market

  • Corporate Strategy is concerned with where a firm competesthe scope of its activities

  • The dimensions of scope are

    • geographical scope

    • vertical scope

    • product scope


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Transactions Costs and the Scope of the Firm

Which is more efficient : several specialist firms linked by markets, or the combination of these specialist firms under common ownership.

VERTICAL PRODUCT GEOGRAPHICAL

AREAS

SINGLE V1 P1 P2 P3 A1 A2 A3

FIRM V2

V3

SEVERAL V1 P1 P2 P3 A1 A2 A3

SPECIALIZED V2

FIRMS V3

Common Issue--- What are TRANSACTION COSTS of markets compared with administrative costs of the firm?


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Transactions Costs and The Existence of the Firm

  • Transaction cost theory explains not just the boundaries of firms, also the existence of firms.

  • In 18th century English woolen industry, no firms -- independent spinners, weavers, and merchants.

  • Residential remodeling industry -- mainly independent self-employed builders, plumbers, electricians, painters.

  • Key issue -- transaction costs of the market vs. administrative costs of firms.

    Note: transaction costs = cost of locating, negotiating, and enforcing a contract.


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Changes in Aggregate Concentration Over Time

50%

Sales of 100 biggest cos. as % of US industrial output

35%

20%

1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990

  • Since early 19th century, firms have grown in size

  • Alfred Chandler points to growing vertical, geographical and product scope of industrial companies

  • What factors explain this trend?

  • Why has the trend reversed since the late 1970s?


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Determinants of Changesin Corporate Scope

  • 1800 - 1975: Expansion in size & scope of biggest industrial corporations. Administrative costs of firms fell due to

    • Advances in transportation, information and communication technologies

    • Advances in management - accounting systems, decision sciences, financial techniques, organizational innovations, scientific management

1975 - 1995: Contraction in size & scope of biggest industrial corporations. Increased market turbulence, more competition, accelerated technological change

Need for speed, flexibility, responsiveness

Large, complex corporations become relatively less efficient


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The Costs and Benefits of Vertical Integration: BENEFITS

  • Technical economies from integrating processes e.g. iron and steel production

    -- but doesn’t necessarily require common ownership

  • Superior coordination

  • Avoids transactions costs of market contracts from:

    -- small numbers of firms

    -- transaction-specific investments

    -- opportunism and strategic misrepresentation

    -- taxes and regulations on market transactions


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The Costs and Benefits of Vertical Integration: COSTS

  • Differences in optimal scale of operation between different stages prevents balanced VI

  • Strategic differences between different vertical stages creates management difficulties

  • Inhibits development of and exploitation of core competencies

  • Limits flexibility -- in responding to demand cycles

    -- in responding to changes in technology,

    customer preferences, etc.

    (But VI may be conducive to system-wide flexibility)

  • Compounding of risk


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When is Vertical Integration More Attractive than Outsourcing?

How many firms are availableThe fewer the companies

to undertake the activities?the more attractive is VI

Is transaction-specific investmentIf yes, VI more attractive needed?

Does limited information permitVI can limit opportunism cheating?

Are taxes or regulation imposed VI can avoid them on transactions?

Do the two stages have similar Greater the similarity, the optimal scale of operation?more attractive is VI

Are the two stages strategically Greater the strategic similar?similarity ---the more attractive is VI

How uncertain is market demand?Greater the unpredictability ----the more costly is VI

Does VI increase risk?If heavy investment required and risks between stages are inter-related----VI increases risk.


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Designing Vertical Relationships: Long-Term Contracts and Quasi-Vertical Integration

  • Intermediate between spot transactions and vertical integration are several types of vertical relationships

    ---such relationships may combine benefits of both market transactions and internalization

  • Key issues in designing vertical relationships

    -- How is risk allocated between the parties?

    -- Are the incentives appropriate?


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Recent Trends in Vertical Relationships

  • From competitive contracting to supplier partnerships, e.g. in autos

  • From vertical integration to outsourcing (not just components, also IT, distribution, and administrative services).

  • Diffusion of franchising

  • Technology partnerships (e.g. IBM- Apple; Canon- HP)

  • Inter-firm networks

    General conclusion:- boundaries between firms and markets becoming increasingly blurred.


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Different Types of Vertical Relationship

Low Degree of CommitmentHigh

Low

Informal supplier/ customer relationships

Vertical integration

Supplier/ customer partnerships

Spot sales/ purchases

Formalization

Joint ventures

Agency agreements

Franchises

Long-term contracts

High


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