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Does Competition Favor Delegation?

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Author Info

  • Christian Alejandro Ruzzier

    ()
    (Harvard Business School)

Abstract

This paper studies the consequences of product-market competition on firms' decisions to delegate more or fewer decision-making responsibilities to managers. By simultaneously addressing the choice of both competitive actions and organizational design, the paper makes an attempt at bringing economic theory and management strategy closer together. An increase in substitutability between the products of the different firms triggers a different response depending on the size of the firm: larger firms delegate more responsibility, whereas smaller firms centralize decision making. The increase in substitutability also causes some firms to exit the market, which pushes in the direction of reduced managerial autonomy. Stronger competition also leads to less discretion in markets in which the possibilities for product differentiation are important. For a given number of firms, an increase in market size increases centralization, as the owner of the firm finds it more costly to accept rent seeking by the managers. However, this increase in market size will lead to the entry of more firms, which calls for more decentralized decision making. Under reasonable conditions, the aggregate effect leads to a U-shaped relationship where firms in both small and large markets are characterized by high levels of discretion, while there is less discretion for intermediate market sizes. Finally, a reduction in entry barriers leads unambiguously to an increase in the level of discretion given to the agent, as it results in a larger number of firms entering the market and, for a given market size, in lower concentration or expected firm-level demand, which reduces the value of having control and pushes in the direction of increased autonomy.

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File URL: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/10-009.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Harvard Business School in its series Harvard Business School Working Papers with number 10-009.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:10-009

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Related research

Keywords: product-market competition; delegation; authority; oligopoly; firm organization;

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