When Ignorance is Not Bliss: An Empirical Analysis of Sub-tier Supply Network Structure on Firm Risk
49 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2015 Last revised: 17 Sep 2019
Date Written: September 15, 2019
Using a multi-tier mapping of supply chain relationships constructed from granular global, firm-to-firm supplier--customer linkages data, we quantify the degree of financial risk propagation from the supply network beyond firms' direct supply chain connections and isolate structural network properties serving as significant moderators of risk propagation. We first document a baseline fact: a significant proportion of tier-2 suppliers are shared by tier-1 suppliers. We then construct two simple metrics to capture the degree of tier-2 sharing and disentangle its effect from tier-2 suppliers' own risks. We show that the focal firms' risk levels are significantly related to the proportion of shared tier-2 suppliers in their supply network, and the effect becomes monotonically stronger as their tier-2 suppliers become more highly shared. Finally, we uncover causal relationships behind these associations using a new source of exogenous, idiosyncratic risk events in an event study setting. We show that as tier-2 suppliers are impacted by these events, focal firms experience negative abnormal returns, the magnitude of which is significantly larger when the impacted tier-2 suppliers are more heavily shared. Overall, our study uncovers the sub-tier network structure as an important risk source for the focal firm, with the degree of tier-2 sharing as the main moderator. Our results also provide the microfoundation for a common structure in idiosyncratic risks and suggest the importance of incorporating the effect of sub-tier supply network structure in the portfolio optimization process.
Keywords: Supply Chain Risk Management, Supply Network Structure, Sub-tier Supply Network
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