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CEP discussion paper
The Determinants of Intrafirm Trade: Evidence from French Firms
Gregory Corcos, Delphine M. Irac, Giordano Mion and Thierry Verdier January 2012
Paper No' CEPDP1119:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: F23; F12; F19

Tags: intrafirm trade; outsourcing; firm heterogeneity; incomplete contracts; internationalization strategies; quality of institutions; extensive margin; intensive margin

How well does the theory of the firm explain the choice between intrafirm and arms' length trade? This paper uses firm-level import data from France to look into this question. We find support for three key predictions of property-rights theories of the multinational firm. Intrafirm imports are more likely: (i) in capital- and skill-intensive firms; (ii) in highly productive firms; (iii) from countries with well-functioning judicial institutions. We further bridge previous aggregate findings with our investigation by decomposing intrafirm imports into an extensive and intensive margin. Doing so we uncover interesting patterns in the data that require further theoretical investigation.