This paper develops a variant of Hotelling's [Hotelling, H., 1929. Stability in competition. Economic Journal 39, 41–57] model involving subcontracting production to explore the validity of the Principle of Minimum Differentiation. It shows that the competition effect, the subcontracting effect, and the bargaining power effect jointly determine the equilibrium locations. It also demonstrates that if the ratio of the transport rates between the subcontracted input and the final product is sufficiently large, the Principle of Minimum Differentiation arises, but the Principle of Maximum Differentiation occurs if the condition is reversed. Furthermore, this paper finds that when the consignor takes the whole subcontracting surplus, the subcontractor will choose vertical foreclosure if this ratio is sufficiently large.
Regional Science and Urban Economics 36(3), pp.373-384