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Intellectual property rights and efficient firm organization
Ponzetto, Giacomo A. M.
Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa
I show that intellectual property rights yield static efficiency gains, irrespective oftheir dynamic role in fostering innovation. I develop a property-rights model of firmorganization with two dimensions of non-contractible investment. In equilibrium, thefirst best is attained if and only if ownership of tangible and intangible assets is equallyprotected. If IP rights are weaker, firm structure is distorted and efficiency declines:the entrepreneur must either integrate her suppliers, which prompts a decline in theirinvestment; or else risk their defection, which entails a waste of her human capital. Mymodel predicts greater prevalence of vertical integration where IP rights are weaker,and a switch from integration to outsourcing over the product cycle. Both empiricalpredictions are consistent with evidence on multinational companies. As a normativeimplication, I find that IP rights should be strong but narrowly defined, to protect abusiness without holding up its potential spin-offs.
Macroeconomics and International Economics
intellectual property
hold-up problem
property rights
vertical integration
product cycle
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