NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Contracts and the Division of Labor

Daron Acemoglu, Pol Antràs, Elhanan Helpman

NBER Working Paper No. 11356
Issued in May 2005
NBER Program(s):   EFG   PR

We develop a tractable framework for the analysis of the relationship between contractual incompleteness, technological complementarities, and technology adoption. In our model a firm chooses its technology and investment levels in contractible activities by suppliers of intermediate inputs. Suppliers then choose investments in noncontractible activities, anticipating payoffs from an ex post bargaining game. We show that greater contractual incompleteness leads to the adoption of less advanced technologies and that the impact of contractual incompleteness is more pronounced when there is greater complementary among the intermediate inputs. We study a number of applications of the main framework and show that the mechanism proposed in the paper can generate sizable productivity differences across countries with different contracting institutions and that differences in contracting institutions lead to endogenous comparative advantage differences.

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This paper was revised on December 11, 2006

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11356

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