Bureaucratic limits of firm size: Academic summary
AbstractThe research tests Oliver Williamson’s proposition that transaction cost economics can explain the limits of firm size. Williamson suggests that diseconomies of scale are manifested through four interrelated factors: atmospheric consequences due to specialisation, bureaucratic insularity, incentive limits of the employment relation and communication distortion due to bounded rationality. Furthermore, Williamson argues that diseconomies of scale are counteracted by economies of scale and can be moderated by adoption of the multidivisional organisation form and by high internal asset specificity. Combined, these influences tend to cancel out and thus there is not a strong, directly observable, relationship between a large firm’s size and performance. A review of the relevant literature, including transaction cost economics, sociological studies of bureaucracy, information-processing perspectives on the firm, agency theory, and studies of incentives and motivation within firms, as well as empirical studies of trends in firm size and industry concentration, corroborates Williamson’s theoretical framework and translates it into five hypotheses: (1) Bureaucratic failure, in the form of atmospheric consequences, bureaucratic insularity, incentive limits and communication distortion, increases with firm size; (2) Large firms exhibit economies of scale; (3) Diseconomies of scale from bureaucratic failure have a negative impact on firm performance; (4) Economies of scale increase the relative profitability of large firms over smaller firms; and (5) Diseconomies of scale are moderated by two transaction cost-related factors: organisation form and asset specificity. The hypotheses are tested by applying structural equation models to primary and secondary cross-sectional data from 784 large U.S. manufacturing firms. The statistical analyses confirm the hypotheses. Thus, diseconomies of scale influence the growth and profitability of firms negatively, while economies of scale and the moderating factors have positive influences. This implies that executives and directors of large firms should pay attention to bureaucratic failure.
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 EconWPA in its series Industrial Organization with number 0304006.
Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 16 Apr 2003
Date of revision: 10 Nov 2003
Note: Type of Document - Acrobat PDF; pages: 28 ; figures: included
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://220.127.116.11
bureaucratic failure; diseconomies of scale; transaction cost economics;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
- L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2003-04-21 (All new papers)
- NEP-ENT-2003-04-21 (Entrepreneurship)
- NEP-IND-2003-04-21 (Industrial Organization)
- NEP-LAB-2003-04-21 (Labour Economics)
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Staffan Canback & Phillip Samouel & David Price, 2003. "Strategy and structure in interaction: What determines the boundaries of the firm?," Industrial Organization 0303003, EconWPA, revised 17 Mar 2003.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (EconWPA).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.