Timothy J. Muris, David T. Scheffman and Pablo T. Spiller

Strategy and Transaction Costs: The Organization of distribution in the Carbonated Soft Drink Industry

This paper analyzes the ongoing transformation of the soft drink distribution of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola from systems of independent bottlers to captive bottling subsidiaries, A transaction cost-based theory is developed to explain this restructuring. It is postulated that changes in the external environment and the resulting changes in the strategies of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola raised the costs of transacting between them and their independent bottlers. Two types of empirical tests are presented. One exploits the difference in the distribution of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola in the fountain channel. The other consists of statistical analyses of the competitive effects of the move toward captive distribution. Both types of tests support the basic hypothesis.