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Inside Organizations: Pricing, Politics, and Path Dependence

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  • Robert Gibbons

    () (Sloan School and Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142, and NBER)

Abstract

When economists have considered organizations, much attention has focused on the boundary of the firm, rather than its internal structures and processes. In contrast, this review sketches three approaches to the economic theory of internal organization—one substantially developed, another rapidly emerging, and a third on the horizon. The first approach (pricing) applies Pigou's prescription: If markets get prices wrong, then the economist's job is to fix the prices. The second approach (politics) considers environments where important actions inside organizations simply cannot be priced, so power and control become central. Finally, the third approach (path dependence) complements the first two by shifting attention from the between variance to the within. That is, rather than asking how organizations confronting different circumstances should choose different structures and processes, the focus here is on how path dependence can cause persistent performance differences among seemingly similar enterprises.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Gibbons, 2010. "Inside Organizations: Pricing, Politics, and Path Dependence," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 337-365, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:anr:reveco:v:2:y:2010:p:337-365
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    Cited by:

    1. Matthias Fahn & Valeria Merlo & Georg Wamser, 2014. "The Commitment Role of Equity Financing," CESifo Working Paper Series 4841, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Jones, Michael D., 2013. "Teacher behavior under performance pay incentives," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 148-164.
    3. Patrick Legros & Andrew F. Newman, 2014. "Contracts, Ownership, and Industrial Organization: Past and Future," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(suppl_1), pages 82-117.
    4. Andreas Blume & April M. Franco & Paul Heidhues, 2011. "Dynamic coordination via organizational routines," ESMT Research Working Papers ESMT-11-10, ESMT European School of Management and Technology.
    5. Bruce Owen, 2011. "Antitrust and Vertical Integration in “New Economy” Industries with Application to Broadband Access," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 38(4), pages 363-386, June.
    6. Aghion, Philippe & Dewatripont, Mathias & Legros, Patrick & Zingales, Luigi (ed.), 2016. "The Impact of Incomplete Contracts on Economics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199826216.
    7. Robert Gibbons, 2010. "Transaction-Cost Economics: Past, Present, and Future?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 112(2), pages 263-288, June.
    8. Robert Gibbons & Robert S. Kaplan, 2015. "Formal Measures in Informal Management: Can a Balanced Scorecard Change a Culture?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 447-451, May.
    9. Graham, John R. & Harvey, Campbell R. & Puri, Manju, 2015. "Capital allocation and delegation of decision-making authority within firms," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(3), pages 449-470.
    10. Steven Callander, 2011. "Searching and Learning by Trial and Error," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2277-2308, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    relational contracts; productivity differences;

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights

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