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Disobedience and Authority

  • Ján Zábojník

This article presents a theory of the allocation of authority in an organization in which centralization is limited by the agent's ability to disobey the principal. We extend the concept of real authority by observing that not only does the principal have to be informed to give an order but also the worker must be willing to follow the order. We show that workers are given more authority when they are costly to replace or do not mind looking for another job, even if they have no better information than the principal. The allocation of authority thus depends on external market conditions as well as the information and agency problems emphasized in the literature. We explore the implications of this insight for hiring policies and managerial styles. The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Yale University. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/jleo/ewp005
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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization.

Volume (Year): 26 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 427-459

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:26:y::i:3:p:427-459
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  1. Ricardo Alonso & Niko Matouschek, 2008. "Optimal Delegation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(1), pages 259-293.
  2. Acemoglu, Daron & F. Newman, Andrew, 2002. "The labor market and corporate structure," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(10), pages 1733-1756, December.
  3. Marino, Anthony M., 2006. "Delegation versus an approval process and the demand for talent," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 487-503, May.
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  16. 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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  18. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
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