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The Ultimate Control Group

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Abstract

Empirical research on the organization of firms requires that firms be classified on the basis of their control structures. This should be done in a way that can potentially be made operational. It is easy to identify the ultimate controller of a hierarchical organization, and the literature has largely focused on this case. But many organizational structures mix hierarchy with collective choice procedures such as voting, or use circular structures under which superiors are accountable to their subordinates. I develop some analytic machinery that can be used to map the authority structures of such organizations, and show that under mild restrictions there is a well-defined ultimate control group. The results are consistent with common intuitions about the nature of control in some familiar economic settings.

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File URL: http://www.sfu.ca/econ-research/RePEc/sfu/sfudps/dp00-16.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University in its series Discussion Papers with number dp00-16.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: 2000
Date of revision: Aug 2000
Handle: RePEc:sfu:sfudps:dp00-16

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Postal: Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada
Phone: (778)782-3508
Fax: (778)782-5944
Web page: http://www.sfu.ca/economics.html
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Postal: Working Paper Coordinator, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada
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  1. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1988. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Working papers 495, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Dow, G.L., 1999. "On the Neutrality of Asset Ownership for Work Incentives," Discussion Papers dp99-1, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
  3. Bowles, Samuel & Gintis, Herbert, 1993. "A Political and Economic Case for the Democratic Enterprise," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(01), pages 75-100, April.
  4. Philippe Aghion & Jean Tirole, 1994. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Working papers 95-8, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  5. Dow, Gregory K. & Putterman, Louis, 2000. "Why capital suppliers (usually) hire workers: what we know and what we need to know," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 319-336, November.
  6. Katzner, Donald W., 1992. "The structure of authority in the firm," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 41-67, September.
  7. Sah, Raaj Kumar & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1986. "The Architecture of Economic Systems: Hierarchies and Polyarchies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 716-27, September.
  8. Raaj Kumar Sah, 1991. "Fallibility in Human Organizations and Political Systems," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 67-88, Spring.
  9. repec:fth:simfra:00-3 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  11. Baker, George & Gibbons, Robert & Murphy, Kevin J, 1999. "Informal Authority in Organizations," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 56-73, April.
  12. Qian, Yingyi, 1994. "Incentives and Loss of Control in an Optimal Hierarchy," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 527-44, July.
  13. Gregory Dow, 2001. "Allocating Control over Firms: Stock Markets versus Membership Markets," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 201-218, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Avner Ben-Ner & Matthew Ellman, 2013. "The contributions of behavioural economics to understanding and advancing the sustainability of worker cooperatives," Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity, European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises, vol. 2(1), pages 75-100, August.

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