Define: Vertical Integration

Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Vertical Integration

What is the dictionary definition of Vertical Integration?

Dictionary Definition

The combination of 2 or more companies at differing stages in the value chain.

For example: a manufacturer may purchases one of it’s suppliers or an organisation involved in distributing it’s products.


Full Definition of Vertical Integration

Vertical disintegration is said to occur when a company withdraws from a stage in the value chain, usually because it decides it would be more cost-effective to hire another company to carry out said activities.

In strategic management and microeconomics, vertical integration is the consolidation of upstream (suppliers) and/or downstream (customers) components of the value chain into a common ownership structure. Costs, market differentiation, and other business issues are impacted by the extent of vertical integration. For instance, vertical integration is a solution to what economists call the hold-up problem, a situation in which it would be efficient for two firms to cooperate, but the firms do not because of differences in bargaining power. Major players in the oil industry have extensive vertical integration. Oil giants including BP and Shell conduct exploration and crude recovery, transport and refining, and retail distribution and sale of fuel. Vertical integration focused on expanding downstream activity is called forward integration. Vertical integration focused on expanding upstream activity is called backward integration. Vertical integration should be distinguished from horizontal integration.


Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Vertical Integration. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. April 09, 2020
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Vertical Integration. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: April 09, 2020).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Vertical Integration. Retrieved April 09, 2020, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Vertical Integration are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 5th February, 2020