Modeling Firms in the Global Economy

Publication Date: 
May 2009
Theory and Society May 2009, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 217-243




I examine the apparent deverticalization of firms in the world economy and their adoption of relational contracting and modularization, necessitated by rapid product change, cheap and rapid transport, and new technologies. I argue that relational contracting is superseded by modularization when possible in the interest of more control over suppliers, and modularization in turn leads to consolidation, when possible, through buying up suppliers or making them captives. The result is increased concentration of economic power in the world economy, and examples of this are presented.