Global Sourcing of a Complex Good

44 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2011

See all articles by Johannes Van Biesebroeck

Johannes Van Biesebroeck

K.U.Leuven; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Lijun Zhang

Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 6, 2011


We analyze a firm that produces a final good from multiple intermediates that can each be sourced domestically or from a low-wage country. The model explicitly incorporates that sourcing decisions of intermediates are interdependent. Equilibrium predictions depend crucially on a key modeling assumption - the nature of the trade friction that foreign production has to overcome. If production abroad involves a fixed cost, offshoring one intermediate unambiguously facilitates offshoring of other intermediates. However, if production abroad involves incomplete contracts, offshoring one intermediate almost always makes it more difficult to offshore others. We illustrate that the pattern in prices at which successive automotive parts are imported into the U.S. accords better with the predictions of the incomplete contracting model, except for a few countries with the best governance indicators.

Keywords: outsourcing, property rights, FDI

JEL Classification: L23, D23, F12

Suggested Citation

Van Biesebroeck, Johannes and Zhang, Lijun, Global Sourcing of a Complex Good (October 6, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Johannes Van Biesebroeck (Contact Author)

K.U.Leuven ( email )

Naamsestraat 69
B-3000 Leuven
+3216326793 (Phone)
+3216326796 (Fax)


Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

United Kingdom

Lijun Zhang

Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) ( email )

KoGuan Law School
Shanghai 200030, Shanghai 200052

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