The determinants of changes in the organization of production: Evidence from Spanish plant-level data
Galdon-Sanchez, Jose E.
In this paper we empirically examine the determinants of changes in the organization of production using detailed information on a data set from a new plant-level survey of 1003 plants covering the full range of manufacturing industries in Spain. In particular, and among many other things, survey respondents were asked how service outsourcing practices had changed in the last three years. The answer to this question is indicative of the changes in the importance of backward integration for each of the plants studied. Using other information provided in the survey, we relate the reported changes in outsourcing to changes in other relevant dimensions as possible determinants of the boundaries of the firm. These dimensions are: plant size, downstream market power, cost of inputs, price and quality of the final good and technological progress. Our findings show that outsourcing increases are strongly positively correlated with increases in market share and in market competition. We also find that outsourcing increases when plants face simultaneous increases in product quality and product prices and that it decreases when plants face simultaneous increases in market share and market competition. Finally, we find that multi-plant and one-plant firms adjust their outsourcing practices differently to outside changes. Since neither TCE nor PRT theories of vertical integration fully explain the patterns found in our data, we close this paper by following Adam Smith's claim that the extent of the market seems to be the only factor consistently limiting the degree of specialization in our setting.
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