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The Whole Is More Than the Sum of Its Parts - Or Is It? A Review of the Empirical Literature on Complementarities in Organizations

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  • Ennen, Edgar
  • Richter, Ansgar

Abstract

The concept of complementarity and its role in the design of organizations has enjoyed increasing attention over the past twenty years. We provide a systematic review of the empirical studies on complementarities in leading journals in management, economics and related disciplines that considers the nature of the factors among which complementarities are found to exist, and the effects of complementarities in organizations. Our findings suggest that complementarities result from the skilful matching of heterogeneous resources which generate positive returns above and beyond the effect of each resource generated on its own. In contrast, the empirical evidence on complementarities between individual organizational and HR practices in firms provides mixed conclusions. We show that complementarities are likely to materialize in complex systems of multiple design elements. Therefore, future research should aim at uncovering complementary effects among multiple elements that capture organizational systems better than a few selected elements only do.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 15666.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:15666

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Keywords: Complementarities; Organizational Design;

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Cited by:
  1. Ben-Ner, Avner & Kong, Fanmin & Lluis, Stéphanie, 2012. "Uncertainty, task environment, and organization design: An empirical investigation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 281-313.
  2. Gérard Ballot & Fathi Fakhfakh & Fabrice Galia & Ammon Salter, 2011. "The Fateful Triangle Complementarities between product, process and organizational innovation in the UK and France," Working Papers halshs-00812141, HAL.
  3. Simone N. Tuor Sartore & Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2012. "Another Effect of Group Diversity: Educational Composition and Workers’ Pay," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0078, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU).
  4. Uschi Backes-Gellner & Stephan Veen, 2013. "Positive Effects of Ageing and Age-Diversity in Innovative Companies Ð Large Scale Evidence on Company Productivity," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0093, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU).

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