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A Theory of Firm Scope

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  • Oliver Hart

    (Harvard University and National Bureau of Economic Research.)

  • Bengt Holmstrom

    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and National Bureau of Economic Research.)

Abstract

The formal literature on firm boundaries has assumed that ex post conflicts are resolved through bargaining. In reality, parties often simply exercise their decision rights. We develop a model, based on shading, in which the use of authority has a central role. We consider two firms deciding whether to adopt a common standard. Nonintegrated firms may fail to coordinate if one firm loses. An integrated firm can internalize the externality, but puts insufficient weight on employee benefits. We use our approach to understand why Cisco acquired StrataCom, a provider of new transmission technology. We also analyze delegation. (c) 2010 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology..

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 125 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 483-513

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:125:y:2010:i:2:p:483-513

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References

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  1. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 2002. "Relational Contracts And The Theory Of The Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 39-84, February.
  2. Rajan, Raghuram G & Servaes, Henri & Zingales, Luigi, 1998. "The Cost of Diversity: The Diversification Discount and Inefficient Investment," CEPR Discussion Papers 1801, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. 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.
  4. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1999. "On the Design of Hierarchies: Coordination Versus Specialization," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1880, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  5. Julio Rotemberg & Garth Saloner, 2000. "Visionaries, Managers, and Strategic Direction," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(4), pages 693-716, Winter.
  6. Philippe Aghion & Mathias Dewatripont & Patrick Rey, 2004. "Transferable Control," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(1), pages 115-138, 03.
  7. Antoinette Schoar, 2002. "Effects of Corporate Diversification on Productivity," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(6), pages 2379-2403, December.
  8. Alonso, Ricardo & Dessein, Wouter & Matouschek, Niko, 2006. "When Does Coordination Require Centralization?," CEPR Discussion Papers 5802, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Roman Inderst & Christian Laux, 2005. "Incentives in Internal Capital Markets: Capital Constraints, Competition, and Investment Opportunities," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(1), pages 215-228, Spring.
  10. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 1997. "Power in a Theory of the Firm," NBER Working Papers 6274, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. 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.
  12. Brusco, Sandro & Panunzi, Fausto, 2000. "Reallocation of Corporate Resources and Managerial Incentives in Internal Capital Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 2532, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. 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.
  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. Jeremy C. Stein, 1995. "Internal Capital Markets and the Competition for Corporate Resources," NBER Working Papers 5101, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. David De Meza & Ben Lockwood, 1998. "Does Asset Ownership Always Motivate Managers? Outside Options And The Property Rights Theory Of The Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 361-386, May.
  17. George J. Mailath & Volker Nocke & Andrew Postlewaite, 2002. "Business Strategy, Human Capital, and Managerial Incentives," PIER Working Paper Archive 03-018, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 23 Jun 2003.
  18. David S. Scharfstein & Jeremy C. Stein, 2000. "The Dark Side of Internal Capital Markets: Divisional Rent-Seeking and Inefficient Investment," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(6), pages 2537-2564, December.
  19. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1988. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Working papers 495, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  20. Heikki Rantakari, 2008. "Governing Adaptation -super-1," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1257-1285.
  21. R. H. Coase, 1972. "Industrial Organization: A Proposal for Research," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Research: Retrospect and Prospect Vol 3: Policy Issues and Research Opportunities in Industrial Organization, pages 59-73 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. 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.
  23. Oliver Hart, 2009. "Hold-Up, Asset Ownership, and Reference Points-super-," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(1), pages 267-300, February.
  24. Chiu, Y Stephen, 1998. "Noncooperative Bargaining, Hostages, and Optimal Asset Ownership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 882-901, September.
  25. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817.
  26. Rotemberg, Julio J & Saloner, Garth, 1994. "Benefits of Narrow Business Strategies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1330-49, December.
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  28. Holmstrom, Bengt, 1999. "The Firm as a Subeconomy," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 74-102, April.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Conconi, Paola & Legros, Patrick & Newman, Andrew, 2008. "Trade Liberalization and Organizational Change," CEPR Discussion Papers 7028, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Serfes, Konstantinos, 2013. "A Price Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration under Two-Sided Productivity Heterogeneity," School of Economics Working Paper Series 2013-6, LeBow College of Business, Drexel University, revised 06 Mar 2014.
  3. Dass, Nishant & Nanda, Vikram & Wang, Qinghai, 2013. "Allocation of decision rights and the investment strategy of mutual funds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(1), pages 254-277.
  4. Bruce Owen, 2011. "Antitrust and Vertical Integration in “New Economy” Industries with Application to Broadband Access," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 38(4), pages 363-386, June.
  5. Giorgio Zanarone, 2012. "Coase (1937) revisited: Endogenous fiat in firms and markets," International Review of Economics, Springer, vol. 59(2), pages 201-221, July.
  6. Oliver Hart, 2013. "Noncontractible Investments and Reference Points," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(3), pages 437-456, August.
  7. Erik Lehmann & Thorsten Braun & Sebastian Krispin, 2012. "Entrepreneurial human capital, complementary assets, and takeover probability," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 37(5), pages 589-608, October.
  8. Simone Moriconi, 2012. "Taxation and Incomplete Contracts," DISCE - Quaderni dell'Istituto di Teoria Economica e Metodi Quantitativi itemq1263, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
  9. Patrick Legros & Andrew Newman, 2013. "A Price Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/141436, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  10. Hoppe, Eva I. & Schmitz, Patrick W., 2011. "Can contracts solve the hold-up problem? Experimental evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 186-199, September.
  11. Bohdan Kukharskyy, 2012. "Global Sourcing if Contracts are Reference Points," Working Papers 129, Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics (BGPE).
  12. Altomonte, Carlo & Rungi, Armando, 2013. "Business groups as hierarchies of firms: determinants of vertical integration and performance," Working Paper Series 1554, European Central Bank.
  13. Wallis, John Joseph, 2011. "Institutions, organizations, impersonality, and interests: The dynamics of institutions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(1-2), pages 48-64, June.

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