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Allocation of Decision-making Authority

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  • Milton Harris
  • Artur Raviv

Abstract

This paper addresses the question of what determines where in a firm’s hierarchy investment decisions are made. We present a simple model of a CEO and a division manager to analyze when the CEO will choose to allocate decision-making authority over an investment decision to a division manager. Both the CEO and the division manager have private information regarding the profit maximizing investment level. Because the division manager is assumed to have a preference for “empire”, neither manager will communicate her information fully to the other. We show that the probability of delegation increases with the importance of the division manager’s information and decreases with the importance of the CEO’s information. A somewhat counterintuitive result is that, in some circumstances, increases in agency problems result in increased willingness of the CEO to delegate the decision. We also characterize situations in which the CEO prefers to commit to an allocation of authority ex ante, instead of deciding based on her private information. Finally, even though the division manager is biased toward larger investments, we show that under certain conditions, the average investment will be smaller when the decision is delegated. These results help explain some findings in the empirical literature. A number of other empirical implications are developed. Copyright Springer 2005

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Review of Finance.

Volume (Year): 9 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (09)
Pages: 353-383

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Handle: RePEc:kap:eurfin:v:9:y:2005:i:3:p:353-383

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Web page: http://springerlink.metapress.com/link.asp?id=111870

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  1. Bernardo, Antonio E. & Cai, Hongbin & Luo, Jiang, 2001. "Capital budgeting and compensation with asymmetric information and moral hazard," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 311-344, September.
  2. Anthony M. Marino & John G. Matsusaka, 2005. "Decision Processes, Agency Problems, and Information: An Economic Analysis of Capital Budgeting Procedures," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 18(1), pages 301-325.
  3. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1988. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Working papers 495, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Robert J. Aumann & Sergiu Hart, 2003. "Long Cheap Talk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1619-1660, November.
  5. Milton Harris & Artur Raviv, . "Capital Budgeting and Delegation," CRSP working papers 343, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  6. 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.
  7. Wouter Dessein, 2002. "Authority and Communication in Organizations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 811-838.
  8. Canice Prendergast, 2002. "The Tenuous Trade-off between Risk and Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(5), pages 1071-1102, October.
  9. Bhattacharyya, Sugato & Singh, Rajdeep, 1999. "The resolution of bankruptcy by auction: allocating the residual right of design," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 269-294, December.
  10. Baker, George & Gibbons, Robert & Murphy, Kevin J, 1999. "Informal Authority in Organizations," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 56-73, April.
  11. Elazar Berkovitch, 2004. "Why the NPV Criterion does not Maximize NPV," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 17(1), pages 239-255.
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