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How organizations behave: towards implications for economics and economic policy

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  • Robert S. Gibbons

Abstract

This essay begins with introductions to the two sides of organizational economics: the economics of internal organization (which focuses on the internal structure and functioning of organizations) and the economic theory of the firm (which focuses on organizations' boundaries and on relationships across these boundaries). Taken literally, these issues are only loosely related to the conference theme of "How Humans Behave," but the author does see a high-level parallel: both behavioral economics and organizational economics are investigating new approaches to modeling economic actors (individuals and firms, respectively). After these introductions to the two sides of organizational economics, the author then tries to connect "How Humans Behave" and "How Organizations Behave." In particular, he offers quick observations (hoping to prompt longer discussions) about (a) applying behavioral models in organizational settings and (b) how organizational settings might warrant new behavioral models. Finally, in an attempt to connect to economic policy, the author considers (c) what do organizations do, and whether it matters that these activities are conducted within organizations (rather than outside).

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its journal Conference Series ; [Proceedings].

Volume (Year): 48 (2003)
Issue (Month): Jun ()
Pages:

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbcp:y:2003:i:jun:n:48:x:3

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Keywords: Macroeconomics ; Economics ; Economic policy;

References

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  1. Oliver Hart & Sanford Grossman, 1985. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Working papers 372, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  3. Williamson, Oliver E, 1979. "Transaction-Cost Economics: The Governance of Contractural Relations," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 233-61, October.
  4. Paul Joskow, 1984. "Vertical Integration and Long Term Contracts: The Case of Coal Burning Electric Generating Plants," Working papers 361, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  5. Klein, Benjamin, 2000. "Fisher-General Motors and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(1), pages 105-41, April.
  6. James J. Heckman, 1976. "The Common Structure of Statistical Models of Truncation, Sample Selection and Limited Dependent Variables and a Simple Estimator for Such Models," NBER Chapters, in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 5, number 4, pages 475-492 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  8. Robert Gibbons, 1997. "An Introduction to Applicable Game Theory," NBER Technical Working Papers 0199, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Andrea Ichino & Giovanni Maggi, 1999. "Work Environment and Individual Background: Explaining Regional Shirking Differentials in a Large Italian Firm," NBER Working Papers 7415, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1993. "Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts," NBER Working Papers 4480, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Klein, Benjamin, 1988. "Vertical Integration as Organizational Ownership: The Fisher Body-General Motors Relationship Revisited," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 199-213, Spring.
  12. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 2001. "Bringing the Market inside the Firm?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 212-218, May.
  13. Tirole, Jean, 1986. "Hierarchies and Bureaucracies: On the Role of Collusion in Organizations," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 2(2), pages 181-214, Fall.
  14. Van den Steen, Eric, 2003. "Organizational Beliefs and Managerial Vision," Working papers 4224-01, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  15. Holmstrom, Bengt, 1999. "The Firm as a Subeconomy," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 74-102, April.
  16. Linda Babcock & George Loewenstein, 1997. "Explaining Bargaining Impasse: The Role of Self-Serving Biases," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 109-126, Winter.
  17. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
  18. Williamson, Oliver E, 1971. "The Vertical Integration of Production: Market Failure Considerations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(2), pages 112-23, May.
  19. Weber, Roberto & Camerer, Colin F. & Knez, Marc, 1996. "The Illusion of Leadership," Working Papers 992, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
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