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Coordination and delay in hierarchies

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  • Andrea Patacconi

Abstract

This article studies hierarchical organizations where concerns for fast execution are important and employees must be coordinated to avoid wasteful duplications of effort. Simple conditions are provided for the time spent on coordinating subordinates to be increasing and the span of control to be decreasing as one goes up the hierarchy, with equalities holding if delay is all that matters. When returns to specialization are substantial, the span of control also tends to widen and the hierarchy to flatten as urgency increases. The model suggests that concerns for fast execution may be key in explaining recent trends toward decentralization and delayering in firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Patacconi, 2009. "Coordination and delay in hierarchies," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(1), pages 190-208, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:randje:v:40:y:2009:i:1:p:190-208
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1756-2171.2008.00061.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Riccaboni, Massimo & Wang, Xu & Zhu, Zhen, 2021. "Firm performance in networks: The interplay between firm centrality and corporate group size," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 641-653.
    3. Cheng Chen & Wing Suen, "undated". "Delay Cost, Knowledge Hierarchy, and Wages," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-279, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    4. Cho, Myeonghwan, 2010. "Efficient structure of organization with heterogeneous workers," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(6), pages 1125-1139, November.
    5. Li, Pei & Lu, Yi & Wang, Jin, 2016. "Does flattening government improve economic performance? Evidence from China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 18-37.
    6. Magdalena Dobrajska & Stephan Billinger & Samina Karim, 2015. "Delegation Within Hierarchies: How Information Processing and Knowledge Characteristics Influence the Allocation of Formal and Real Decision Authority," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(3), pages 687-704, June.

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