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The ultimate control group

  • Dow, Gregory K.

Empirical research on the organization of firms requires that firms be classified on the basis of their control structures. This should be done in a way that can potentially be made operational. It is easy to identify the ultimate controller of a hierarchical organization, and the literature has largely focused on this case. But many organizational structures mix hierarchy with collective choice procedures such as voting, or use circular structures under which superiors are accountable to their subordinates. I develop some analytic machinery that can be used to map the authority structures of such organizations, and show that under mild restrictions there is a well-defined ultimate control group. The results are consistent with common intuitions about the nature of control in some familiar economic settings.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 49 (2002)
Issue (Month): 1 (September)
Pages: 39-49

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:49:y:2002:i:1:p:39-49
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  1. Katzner, Donald W., 1992. "The structure of authority in the firm," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 41-67, September.
  2. repec:ner:ucllon: is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Dow, Gregory K. & Putterman, Louis, 2000. "Why capital suppliers (usually) hire workers: what we know and what we need to know," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 319-336, November.
  4. Qian, Yingyi, 1994. "Incentives and Loss of Control in an Optimal Hierarchy," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 527-44, July.
  5. Philippe Aghion & Jean Tirole, 1994. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Working papers 95-8, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Bowles, Samuel & Gintis, Herbert, 1993. "A Political and Economic Case for the Democratic Enterprise," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(01), pages 75-100, April.
  7. Dow, Gregory K., 2000. "On the Neutrality of Asset Ownership for Work Incentives," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 581-605, September.
  8. Baker, George & Gibbons, Robert & Murphy, Kevin J, 1999. "Informal Authority in Organizations," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 56-73, April.
  9. Sah, R.K., 1991. "Fallibility In Human Organizations And Political Systems," Papers 625, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  10. Gregory Dow, 2001. "Allocating Control over Firms: Stock Markets versus Membership Markets," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 201-218, March.
  11. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1988. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Working papers 495, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  12. 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 716-27, September.
  13. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
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