A Price Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration

43 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2009

See all articles by Patrick Legros

Patrick Legros

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES); Northeastern University, department of economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Andrew F. Newman

Boston University - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 2009

Abstract

We construct a price-theoretic model of firms' integration decisions under perfect competition and study their interplay with consumer demand and welfare. Integration is costly to implement but is effective at coordinating production decisions. The price of output influences the ownership structure chosen: there is an inverted-U relation between the degree of integration and product price. Ownership in turn affects output: integration is more productive than non-integration at low prices, and less productive at high prices. If the managers deciding organizational design have full claim to firm revenues, market equilibrium ownership choices will be second-best efficient. When managers have less than a full claim on profits, however, total welfare may sometimes be increased by a social planner who could force some firms to reorganize. The price mechanism tends to correlate reorganizations across firms and generates external effects of technological shocks: productivity changes in some firms may have little effect on their own organization, while inducing changes of ownership in the rest of the industry. Terms of trade in supplier markets also affect ownership structure; entry of low-cost suppliers may induce reorganizations that raise prices. The model can generate coexistence of different ownership structures, even among ex-ante identical firms.

Keywords: decision rights, incomplete contracts, integration, ownership, price theory

JEL Classification: D21, D41, D86

Suggested Citation

Legros, Patrick and Newman, Andrew F., A Price Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration (March 2009). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP7211. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1372531

Patrick Legros (Contact Author)

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES) ( email )

Ave. Franklin D Roosevelt, 50 - C.P. 114
Brussels, B-1050
Belgium
+32 2 650 4219/3 (Phone)
+32 2 650 4475 (Fax)

Northeastern University, department of economics ( email )

301 Lake Hall
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Andrew F. Newman

Boston University - Department of Economics ( email )

270 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617-358-4354 (Phone)
617-353-4143 (Fax)

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