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The Flattening Firm and Product Market Competition: The Effect of Trade Liberalization on Corporate Hierarchies

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Author Info

  • Maria Guadalupe
  • Julie Wulf

Abstract

This paper establishes a causal effect of product market competition on various characteristics of organizational design. Using a unique panel dataset on firm hierarchies of large US firms (1986-1999) and a quasi-natural experiment (trade liberalization), we find that competition leads firms to flatten their hierarchies: firms reduce the number of positions between the CEO and division managers, and firms increase the number of positions reporting directly to the CEO. The results illustrate how firms redesign their organizational structure through a set of complementary choices in response to changes in their environment. We discuss several possible interpretations of these changes. (JEL D23, F13, G34, M12, M51)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 2 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 105-27

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:2:y:2010:i:4:p:105-27

Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.2.4.105
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References

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  1. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 1-29, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Heyman, Fredrik & Sjöholm, Fredrik & Davidson, Carl & Matusz, Steven & Chun Zhu, Susan, 2014. "Global Engagement and the Occupational Structure of Firms," Working Paper Series 1026, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  2. Marin, Dalia, 2012. "The Theory of the Firm goes Global," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 370, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  3. Valta, Philip, 2012. "Competition and the cost of debt," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(3), pages 661-682.
  4. Andrew F. Newman & Patrick Legros & Paola Conconi, 2011. "Trade Liberalization and Organizational Change," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2011-037, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  5. Alimov, Azizjon, 2014. "Product market competition and the value of corporate cash: Evidence from trade liberalization," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 122-139.
  6. Claudio Loderer & René Stulz & Urs Waelchli, 2013. "Limited Managerial Attention and Corporate Aging," NBER Working Papers 19428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Catherine Thomas, 2011. "Too Many Products: Decentralized Decision Making in Multinational Firms," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 280-306, February.
  8. William Mullins & Antoinette Schoar, 2013. "How do CEOs see their Role? Management Philosophy and Styles in Family and Non-Family Firms," NBER Working Papers 19395, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Valerie Smeets & Michael Waldman & Frederic Warzynski, 2013. "Performance, Career Dynamics, and Span of Control," Economics Working Papers 2013-02, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.

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