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Externalities and the Allocation of Decision Rights in the Theory of the Firm

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  • Bester, Helmut

Abstract

This Paper views authority as the right to undertake decisions that have external effects on other members of the organization. Because of contractual incompleteness, monetary incentives are insufficient to internalize these effects in the decision-maker’s objective. The optimal assignment of decision rights minimizes the resulting inefficiencies. We illustrate this in a principal–agent model where the principal retains the authority to select ‘large’ projects but delegates the decision right to the agent to implement ‘small’ projects. Extensions of the model discuss the role of effort incentives, asymmetric information and multi-stage decisions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3276.

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Date of creation: Mar 2002
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3276

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Related research

Keywords: authority; control rights; decision rights; delegation; externalities; incomplete contracts; theory of the firm;

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References

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  1. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1983. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 7-45, January.
  2. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1994. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," IDEI Working Papers 37, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  3. Aghion, Philippe & Dewatripont, Mathias & Rey, Patrick, 2002. "On partial contracting," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 745-753, May.
  4. Segal, Ilya, 1999. "Complexity and Renegotiation: A Foundation for Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 57-82, January.
  5. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1998. "Foundations of Incomplete Contracts," NBER Working Papers 6726, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver, 1985. "The Cost and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 70, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1999. "Unforeseen Contingencies and Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 83-114, January.
  8. Rajan, Raghuram G & Zingales, Luigi, 1998. "Power in a Theory of the Firm," CEPR Discussion Papers 1777, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
  10. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1999. "Two Remarks on the Property-Rights Literature," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 139-49, January.
  11. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 1992. "An Incomplete Contracts Approach to Financial Contracting," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(3), pages 473-94, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Bester, Helmut, 2005. "Externalities, Communication and the Allocation of Decision Rights," CEPR Discussion Papers 5391, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Krahmer, Daniel, 2006. "Message-contingent delegation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(4), pages 490-506, August.
  3. Stefan Ambec, 2003. "A Theory of Authority in Bilateral Contracting," CSEF Working Papers 102, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.

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