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The Demand for Coordination

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  • Dessein, Wouter
  • Santos, Jesus

Abstract

This paper endogenizes coordination problems in organizations by allowing for both ex ante coordination of activities, using rules and task guidelines, and ex post coordination, using communication and broad job assignments. It shows that: (i) Task specialization and the division of labour is mainly limited by employee discretion, rather than by the importance of coordination. In particular, specialization is often non-monotonic in the importance of coordination. (ii) Organizations exhibit increasing returns to ex post coordination. This rationalizes discrete ‘shifts’ in organizational design from very rigid and specialized task assignments, to very flexible organizations characterized by extensive task-bundling, intensive horizontal communication and substantial employee discretion. (iii) Broad task assignments and intensive horizontal communication are complementary. Hence, lower communication costs often result in less specialization.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4096.

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Date of creation: Oct 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4096

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Keywords: authority; communication; coordination; information technology; organizations; skills; specialization;

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Cited by:
  1. Cindy Zoghi & Alec Levenson & Michael Gibbs, 2005. "Why Are Jobs Designed the Way They Are?," Working Papers 382, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  2. Andrea Patacconi, 2005. "Optimal Coordination in Hierarchies," Economics Series Working Papers 238, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  3. Raouf Boucekkine & Patricia Criffo & Claudio Mattalia, 2008. "Technological progress, organizational change and the size of the Human Resources Department," Working Papers 2008_20, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
  4. Zamagni, Stefano, 2005. "Per una teoria economico-civile dell'impresa cooperativa," AICCON Working Papers 10-2005, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.
  5. Dezsö Szalay & Ramon Arean, 2005. "Communicating with a Team of Experts," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 05.12, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.

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