Why Hierarchy? Communication and Information Acquisition in Organizations
AbstractIn most firms, if not all, workers are divided asymmetrically in terms of authority and responsibility. In this paper, we view the asymmetric allocations of authority and responsibility as essential features of hierarchy and examine why hierarchies often prevail in organizations from that perspective. The focus of attention is on the tradeoff between costly information acquisition and costless communication. When the agency problem concerning information acquisition is sufficiently severe, the contractual arrangement which allocates responsibility asymmetrically often emerges as the optimal organizational form, which gives rise to the chain of command pertaining to hierarchical organizations. This explains why hierarchies often prevail in firms since a relatively fixed group of members must confront with new problems and come up with solutions on the day-to-day basis, and hence the agency problem is an issue to be reckoned with.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University in its series ISER Discussion Paper with number 0751.
Date of creation: Aug 2009
Date of revision:
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2009-09-11 (All new papers)
- NEP-BEC-2009-09-11 (Business Economics)
- NEP-CDM-2009-09-11 (Collective Decision-Making)
- NEP-CTA-2009-09-11 (Contract Theory & Applications)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- 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.
- Philippe Aghion & Jean Tirole, 1994. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Working papers 95-8, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Scholarly Articles 4554125, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Philippe Aghion & Jean Tirole, 1994. "Normal and Real Authority in Organizations," Working papers 94-13, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1994. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," IDEI Working Papers 37, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
- Vijay Krishna & John Morgan, 2001.
"A Model Of Expertise,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 747-775, May.
- Krishna, V. & Morgan, J., 1999. "A Model of Expertise," Papers 206, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
- Vijay Krishna & John Morgan, 1999. "A Model of Expertise," Game Theory and Information 9902003, EconWPA.
- Vijay Krishna & John Morgan, 1999. "A Model of Expertise," Working Papers 154, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics..
- Gilat Levy, 2007. "Decision Making in Committees: Transparency, Reputation, and Voting Rules," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 150-168, March.
- Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 2001.
"The Firm As A Dedicated Hierarchy: A Theory Of The Origins And Growth Of Firms,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 805-851, August.
- Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 2000. "The Firm as a Dedicated Hierarchy: A Theory of the Origin and Growth of Firms," NBER Working Papers 7546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Wouter Dessein, 2002.
"Authority and Communication in Organizations,"
Review of Economic Studies,
Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 811-838.
- Wouter Dessein, 2000. "Authority and Communication in Organizations," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1747, Econometric Society.
- Hao Li, 2001. "A Theory of Conservatism," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 617-636, June.
- Junichiro Ishida & Takashi Shimizu, 2009. "Cheap Talk with an Informed Receiver," ISER Discussion Paper 0746, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
- Luis Garicano, 2000. "Hierarchies and the Organization of Knowledge in Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 874-904, October.
- Gilat Levy, 2007. "Decision making in committees: transparency, reputation, and voting rules," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3697, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Fumiko Matsumoto).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.