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The Architecture of Economic Systems: Hierarchies and Polyarchies


  • Sah, Raaj Kumar
  • Stiglitz, Joseph E


The authors present new ways of looking at economic organizations andsystems. Individuals' judgments entail errors (they sometimes reject good projects and accept bad projects). The architecture of an economicsystem, specifying how the decision making units are organized togetherwithin a system, who gathers what information, and who communicates what with whom, affects its performance both because it influences thenature of errors that individuals make within the system, and becauseit has a critical effect on the aggregation of individuals' errors. Theperformance of two polar architectures, decentralized (polyarchical) versus centralized (hierarchical) decision-making authorities are analyzed and compared. Copyright 1986 by American Economic Association.

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  • 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 716-727, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:76:y:1986:i:4:p:716-27

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Summers, Anita A & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1977. "Do Schools Make a Difference?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 639-652, September.
    2. Behrman, Jere R & Pollak, Robert A & Taubman, Paul, 1982. "Parental Preferences and Provision for Progeny," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(1), pages 52-73, February.
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