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Too Few Cooks Spoil the Broth : Division of Labor and Directed Production

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  • Schnedler, Wendelin
  • Ratto, Marisa

Abstract

How can a manager influence workers’ activity, while knowing little about it ? This paper examines a situation where production requires several tasks, and the manager wants to direct production to achieve a preferred allocation of effort across tasks. However, the effort that is required for each task cannot be observed, and the production result is the only indicator of worker activity. This paper illustrates that in this situation, the manager cannot implement the preferred allocation with a single worker. On the other hand, the manager is able to implement the preferred allocation by inducing a game among several workers. Gains to workers from collusion may be eliminated by an ability-dependent, but potentially inefficient, task assignment. These findings provide a new explanation for the division of labor, and bureaucratic features such as “over”- specialization and “wrong” task allocation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Paris Dauphine University in its series Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine with number 123456789/6986.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Publication status: Published in B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 2008, Vol. 8, no. 1
Handle: RePEc:dau:papers:123456789/6986

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Related research

Keywords: Specialization; job design; moral hazard; multitasking;

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References

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  1. Armen A. Alchian & Harold Demsetz, 1971. "Production, Information Costs and Economic Organizations," UCLA Economics Working Papers 10A, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Bengt Holmstrom, 1982. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 324-340, Autumn.
  3. Fama, Eugene F, 1980. "Agency Problems and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 288-307, April.
  4. Itoh, Hideshi, 1992. "Cooperation in Hierarchical Organizations: An Incentive Perspective," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(2), pages 321-45, April.
  5. Canice Prendergast, 2003. "The Limits of Bureaucratic Efficiency," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(5), pages 929-958, October.
  6. Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1991. "Optimal Incentive Contracts in the Presence of Career Concerns: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 3792, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1992. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(4), pages 1137-60, November.
  8. Dewatripont, Mathias & Jewitt, Ian & Tirole, Jean, 1999. "The Economics of Career Concerns, Part II: Application to Missions and Accountability of Government Agencies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 199-217, January.
  9. George Baker, 2002. "Distortion and Risk in Optimal Incentive Contracts," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(4), pages 728-751.
  10. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J, 2000. "Multitask Learning and the Reorganization of Work: From Tayloristic to Holistic Organization," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 353-76, July.
  11. Strausz, R., 1995. "Delegation of Monitoring in a Principal-Agent Relationship," Discussion Paper 1995-60, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  12. Susan Athey & John Roberts, 2001. "Organizational Design: Decision Rights and Incentive Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 200-205, May.
  13. Itoh, Hideshi, 1991. "Incentives to Help in Multi-agent Situations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 611-36, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Felipe Balmaceda, 2013. "On the Optimality of One-size-fits-all Contracts: The Limited Liability Case," Working Papers 39, Facultad de Economía y Empresa, Universidad Diego Portales.
  2. Schöttner, Anja & Kragl, Jenny, 2013. "Wage Floors, Imperfect Performance Measures, and Optimal Job Design," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79941, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  3. Christian Espinosa & Juan Gorigoitía & Carlos Maquieira, 2012. "Nonlinear behaviour of EMBI index:the case of eastern European countries," Working Papers 37, Facultad de Economía y Empresa, Universidad Diego Portales.
  4. Chen, Bo, 2012. "All-or-nothing payments," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 133-142.

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