Gerald T. Garvey and Rohan Pitchford

Input Market Competition and the Makeor-Buy Decision

Recent theories of vertical integration based on incomplete contracts assume perfect competition on at least one side of the market. As a result, the make-or-buy choice has no redistributive effect and will reflect efficiency considerations only. This paper introduces imperfect competition into an otherwise standard model of a vertical relationship with noncontractable specific investments. We assume that there are a finite number of potential input suppliers with private information about their costs. We first show that a monopoly buyer of such inputs will often prefer to own the seller’s assets even though it would be more efficient for the seller’s assets not to be so owned. We then show that an increase in the number of potential partners on either side of the market reduces this inclination towards vertical integration. With perfect competition on either side of the market, the make-buy decision will reflect only efficiency considerations.