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Specificity revisited: The role of cross-investments
Ellman, Matthew
Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa
Previous analysis has shown that traders may opt for specific technologies with nojoint productivity advantage as a way to commit themselves to trading jointly, butonly when long-term contracting is infeasible. This paper proves that speciÞcity canalso be optimal (by relaxing the budget-balance constraint) in settings with long-termcontracting. Traders will opt for specificity when one trader makes a cross-investmentand either (1) this cross-investment has a direct externality on the other trader, (2) bothparties invest, or (3) private information is present. The specificity (e.g. from non-salvageable investments, specific assets and technologies, narrow business strategies,and exclusivity restrictions) is equally effective regardless of which trader's alternativetrade payoff is reduced. Specificity supports long-term contracts in a broad rangeof settings - both with and without renegotiation. The theory also offers a novelperspective on franchising and vertical integration.
Management and Organization Studies
hostages long-term contracting
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