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Relational contracts and supplier turnover in the global economy

Fabrice Defever (), Christian Fischer and Jens Suedekum ()

Journal of International Economics, 2016, vol. 103, issue C, 147-165

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. Using firm-product-level data of fresh Chinese exporters to the US, we obtain empirical evidence in line with the predictions of our theory.

Keywords: Firm organization; Input sourcing; Relational contracts; Supplier search (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: F23 D23 L23 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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Related works:
Working Paper: Relational Contracts and Supplier Turnover in the Global Economy (2016) Downloads
Working Paper: Relational Contracts and Supplier Turnover in the Global Economy (2015) Downloads
Working Paper: Relational Contracts and Supplier Turnover in the Global Economy (2015) Downloads
Working Paper: Relational contracts and supplier turnover in the global economy (2015) Downloads
Working Paper: Relational contracts and supplier turnover in the global economy (2015) Downloads
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