Scale and Transaction Costs in the U.S. Biopower Industry
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With increasing interest in renewable energy from agriculture, including biopower and cellulose ethanol, there is a need for better understanding of the economic organization of this emerging industry. Study of the organization of the biopower industry represents an under-researched area and a new application of transaction cost theory to an emerging industry. Refinement of the theory can also result from challenging applications. This article provides an application of transaction cost economics to the existing United States biopower industry while challenging the empirical convention of excluding production cost variables from transaction cost analysis. Utilizing survey data from 53 biopower generators we study the relationship between physical asset specificity, site specificity, and scale in explaining firms' decisions to procure inputs internally, externally, or to use both methods. Consistent with transaction cost theory, both site specificity and scale are good predictors of organizational form. Given this evidence, this article reconsiders the impact of scale and transaction costs on the choice of organizational form.
Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization, Vol. 5(10), 2007