IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

On the Costs and Benefits of Delegation in Organizations


  • Dirk Sliwka


We examine the question whether a decision should be delegated to a subordinate and whether this is done efficiently. We illustrate in a dynamic principal-agent model that delegation is useful for several reasons. First, it serves to test agents with unknown ability. Then, it may improve an agent's motivation when carrying out decisions as successful outcomes improve his reputation and hence his future wages. Costs of delegation arise from the risk of having decisions of lower quality and because after having made a successful decision a subordinate's power is increased. The latter effect may lead to inefficient delegation decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Dirk Sliwka, 2001. "On the Costs and Benefits of Delegation in Organizations," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 157(4), pages 568-568, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:jinste:urn:sici:0932-4569(200112)157:4_568:otcabo_2.0.tx_2-0

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Fulltext access is included for subscribers to the printed version.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 1-29, February.
    2. Gibbons, Robert & Murphy, Kevin J, 1992. "Optimal Incentive Contracts in the Presence of Career Concerns: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 468-505, June.
    3. Stole, Lars A & Zwiebel, Jeffrey, 1996. "Organizational Design and Technology Choice under Intrafirm Bargaining," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 195-222, March.
    4. Margaret A. Meyer, 1994. "The Dynamics of Learning with Team Production: Implications for Task Assignment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1157-1184.
    5. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 1998. "Power in a Theory of the Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 387-432.
    6. Nahum D. Melumad & Dilip Mookherjee & Stefan Reichelstein, 1995. "Hierarchical Decentralization of Incentive Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(4), pages 654-672, Winter.
    7. Jean-Jacques Laffont & David Martimort, 1998. "Collusion and Delegation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(2), pages 280-305, Summer.
    8. Mathias Dewatripont & Ian Jewitt & Jean Tirole, 1999. "The Economics of Career Concerns, Part I: Comparing Information Structures," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 183-198.
    9. Fama, Eugene F, 1980. "Agency Problems and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 288-307, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ernst Fehr & Holger Herz & Tom Wilkening, 2013. "The Lure of Authority: Motivation and Incentive Effects of Power," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1325-1359, June.
    2. Gary Charness & Ramon Cobo-Reyes & Natalia Jimenez & Juan A. Lacomba & Francisco Lagos, 2012. "The Hidden Advantage of Delegation: Pareto Improvements in a Gift Exchange Game," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2358-2379, August.
    3. Dirk Sliwka, 2006. "On the Notion of Responsibility in Organizations," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(2), pages 523-547, October.
    4. Danilov, Anastasia & Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2014. "Helping in Teams," IZA Discussion Papers 8707, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mhr:jinste:urn:sici:0932-4569(200112)157:4_568:otcabo_2.0.tx_2-0. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Wolpert). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.