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Interpersonal Authority in a Theory of the Firm

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  • Eric Van den Steen

Abstract

This paper develops a theory of the firm in which a firm's centralized asset ownership and low-powered incentives give the manager, as an equilibrium outcome, interpersonal authority over employees (in a world with open disagreement). The paper thus provides micro-foundations for the idea that bringing a project inside the firm gives the manager control over that project, while explaining concentrated asset ownership, low-powered incentives, and centralized authority as typical characteristics of firms. The paper also leads to new perspectives on the firm as a legal entity and on the relationship between the Knightian and Coasian views of the firm. (JEL D23, L20)

Suggested Citation

  • Eric Van den Steen, 2010. "Interpersonal Authority in a Theory of the Firm," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 466-490, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:1:p:466-90
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.1.466
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • L20 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - General

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