Backward and Forward Integration Along Global Value Chains
27 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2019
Date Written: November 1, 2019
Backward and forward vertical integrations both shape the organization of Global Value Chains (GVCs). Yet, many studies make the unrealistic assumption that integration decisions are binary and one-directional, i.e., companies make the integration decision only once and they can go either backward or forward but not in both directions. The aim of this paper is to analyze the firm-level organization of GVCs when both vertical integration decisions are taken into account. Exploiting a global sample of more than 1.4 million firms, we first document how midstream parents actually integrate on both directions along the chain, and they are at least as common as downstream and upstream parents. Then, we find that parent companies prefer to integrate production stages with a relatively low elasticity of substitution and with a technological proximity on the supply chain. Finally, we provide evidence that more than one subsidiary in a given location can perform the same production stage.
Keywords: global value chains; vertical integration; property rights theory; multinational enterprises; downstreamness; corporate boundaries.
JEL Classification: F14, F23, D23, G34, L20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation