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Too Many Products: Decentralized Decision Making in Multinational Firms

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  • Catherine Thomas

Abstract

I analyze country-level product ranges offered by multinational laundry detergent manufacturers in Western Europe. Observed product range variation across countries exceeds the optimal firm-level response to differences in consumer preferences and retail environments. Counterfactual analysis reveals that increased product range standardization would reduce firm costs and increase profits. These findings are consistent with theory models of local agency, where decentralized decision making can be the constrained optimal organizational form despite the resulting lack of coordination across divisions. My analysis suggests that organizational structure affects product market outcomes and firm performance. (JEL D23, F23, L21, L25, L65)

Suggested Citation

  • Catherine Thomas, 2011. "Too Many Products: Decentralized Decision Making in Multinational Firms," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 280-306, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:3:y:2011:i:1:p:280-306
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.3.1.280
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Luis Garicano & Luis Rayo, 2016. "Why Organizations Fail: Models and Cases," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(1), pages 137-192, March.
    2. Michel, Christian, 2013. "Identification and Estimation of Intra-Firm and Industry Competition via Ownership Change," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 80488, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Jan De Loecker & Johannes Van Biesebroeck, 2016. "Effect of International Competition on Firm Productivity and Market Power," NBER Working Papers 21994, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Jordi Brandts & David J. Cooper, 2015. "Centralized vs. Decentralized Management: an Experimental Study," Working Papers 854, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    5. Christian, Michel, 2013. "Identification and Estimation of Intra-Firm and Industry Competition via Ownership Change," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 409, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • L65 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Chemicals; Rubber; Drugs; Biotechnology; Plastics

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