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Organizing to Adapt and Compete

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  • Ricardo Alonso
  • Wouter Dessein
  • Niko Matouschek

Abstract

We examine the relationship between the organization of a multi-divisional firm and its ability to adapt production decisions to changes in the environment. We show that even if lower-level managers have superior information about local conditions, and incentive conflicts are negligible, a centralized organization can be better at adapting to local information than a decentralized one. As a result, and in contrast to what is commonly argued, an increase in product market competition that makes adaptation more important can favor centralization rather than decentralization. (JEL D21, D23, F23, L22)

Suggested Citation

  • Ricardo Alonso & Wouter Dessein & Niko Matouschek, 2015. "Organizing to Adapt and Compete," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 158-187, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:7:y:2015:i:2:p:158-87
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.20130100
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    Cited by:

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    2. Siguang Li & Xi Weng, 2017. "Random Authority," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 58(1), pages 211-235, February.
    3. Alonso, Ricardo & Rantakari, Heikki, 2022. "The art of brevity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 195(C), pages 257-271.
    4. Petros G. Sekeris & Dimitrios Xefteris, 2018. "Delegating decisions to organizations," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 15-2018, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.
    5. Christian Balcells, 2022. "Determinants of firm boundaries and organizational performance: an empirical investigation of the Chilean truck market," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 423-461, April.
    6. Pisch, Frank, 2020. "Managing global production: theory and evidence from just-in-time supply chains," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 108488, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. Migrow, Dimitri, 2021. "Designing communication hierarchies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 198(C).
    8. Tran, Hai & Turkiela, Jason, 2020. "The powers that be: Concentration of authority within the board of directors and variability in firm performance☆," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 60(C).
    9. Dessein, Wouter & Lo, Desmond (Ho-Fu) & Minami, Chieko, 2019. "Coordination and Organization Design: Theory and Micro-evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 13938, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Eduard Alonso‐Pauli & Lluís Bru, 2020. "A note on the impact of the internal organization on the accuracy of the information transmitted within the firm," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 41(6), pages 902-910, September.
    11. Liu, Shuo & Migrow, Dimitri, 2022. "When does centralization undermine adaptation?," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 205(C).
    12. Katayama, Hajime & Meagher, Kieron J. & Wait, Andrew, 2018. "Authority and communication in firms," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 155(C), pages 315-348.
    13. Philipp Ehrl & Leonardo Monasterio, 2021. "Spatial skill concentration agglomeration economies," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(1), pages 140-161, January.
    14. Wouter Dessein & Richard Holden, 2022. "Organizations with Power-Hungry Agents," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65(S1), pages 263-291.
    15. Panos Constantinides & Ola Henfridsson & Geoffrey G. Parker, 2018. "Introduction—Platforms and Infrastructures in the Digital Age," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 29(2), pages 381-400, June.
    16. Jordi Brandts & David J. Cooper, 2018. "Truth Be Told An Experimental Study of Communication and Centralization," Working Papers 1046, Barcelona School of Economics.
    17. Petros G. Sekeris & Dimitrios Xefteris, 2021. "Strategic Delegation to Organizations," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(4), pages 900-922, December.
    18. Jordi Brandts & David J. Cooper, 2015. "Centralized vs. Decentralized Management: an Experimental Study," Working Papers 854, Barcelona School of Economics.
    19. Asuyama, Yoko, 2016. "Delegation to workers across countries and industries : social capital and coordination needs matter," IDE Discussion Papers 620, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
    20. Michela Altieri & Giovanna Nicodano, 2016. "The Apparent Diversification Discount," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 465, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    21. Michela Altieri & Giovanna Nicodano, 2020. "Survival and Pricing Puzzles," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 604, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    22. Asuyama, Yoko, 2020. "Delegation to workers across countries and industries: Interacting effects of social capital and coordination needs," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 69(C).
    23. Jordi Brandts & David J. Cooper, 2020. "Managerial Leadership, Truth-Telling, and Efficient Coordination," Working Papers 1211, Barcelona School of Economics.
    24. Daniel Habermacher, 2022. "Authority and Specialization under Informational Interdependence," Working Papers 142, Red Nacional de Investigadores en Economía (RedNIE).
    25. Mo Chen & Aseem Kaul & Brian Wu, 2019. "Adaptation across multiple landscapes: Relatedness, complexity, and the long run effects of coordination in diversified firms," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(11), pages 1791-1821, November.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure

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