The benefits of competitive upward channel decentralization

Yunchuan Liu, Rajeev K. Tyagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Upward channel decentralization occurs when firms choose to not manufacture products by themselves and procure products from upstream suppliers. Current voices from marketing scholars and practitioners have predominantly focused on the cost benefits when production is outsourced to lower-cost upstream suppliers. In this paper, we study the effects of upward channel decentralization where competing firms can outsource their production to upstream suppliers who do not have any advantages on production costs. We show how downstream firms can still benefit from upward channel decentralization provided their product positioning is endogenous. Thus, we provide a new theory on the strategic benefits of upward channel decentralization. We also use this framework to show a new benefit to manufacturers selling through downstream retailers rather than directly. We examine the implications of our theory for consumer and social welfare, and also draw managerial implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-751
Number of pages11
JournalManagement Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Distribution channel
  • Game theory
  • Product positioning
  • Production outsourcing
  • Upward channel decentralization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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