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The Internal Organization of the Firm and the Shape of Average Costs

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  • Michael Keren
  • David Levhari

Abstract

Do costs of coordination limit the size of firms? Do they lead to rising average costs at high output levels? A simple model of a firm which employs production and administrative labor, and where output is declining in coordination time by the latter, answers this question in two steps. First we derive a cost minimizing hierarchical structure for any given size of production labor. This structure shows similarity to that reported in the literature for both business and military organizations. Then we use the administrative technology that is developed to derive conditions under which average costs do eventually rise even in the presence of increasing returns to production labor. The presumption of a limit to the size of firms is shown to hold under reasonable, though not all, conditions

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Keren & David Levhari, 1983. "The Internal Organization of the Firm and the Shape of Average Costs," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 474-486, Autumn.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:bellje:v:14:y:1983:i:autumn:p:474-486
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    Cited by:

    1. René Brink, 2012. "On hierarchies and communication," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 39(4), pages 721-735, October.
    2. Jürgen Mihm & Christoph H. Loch & Dennis Wilkinson & Bernardo A. Huberman, 2010. "Hierarchical Structure and Search in Complex Organizations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(5), pages 831-848, May.
    3. Pérez, Jessica Helen & Iranzo Sancho, Susana, 2012. "Determinants of Decentralization within the Firm: Some Empirical Evidence from Spanish Small and Medium- Sized Enterprise," Working Papers 2072/211755, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics.
    4. Prat, Andrea, 1997. "Hierarchies of Processors with Endogenous Capacity," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 214-222, November.
    5. Van Zandt, Timothy, 1995. "Hierarchical computation of the resource allocation problem," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 700-708, April.
    6. Colombo, Massimo G. & Delmastro, Marco, 1999. "Some stylized facts on organization and its evolution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 255-274, November.
    7. Barro, Jason R & Barro, Robert J, 1990. "Pay, Performance, and Turnover of Bank CEOs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(4), pages 448-481, October.
    8. Watts, Alison, 2001. "A Dynamic Model of Network Formation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 331-341, February.
    9. Tomohiro Hayashida & Ichiro Nishizaki & Rika Kambara, 2014. "Simulation Analysis for Network Formulation," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 43(3), pages 371-394, March.
    10. Dimitri Vayanos, 2003. "The Decentralization of Information Processing in the Presence of Interactions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 667-695.
    11. Swank, Otto & Visser, Bauke, 2008. "The consequences of endogenizing information for the performance of a sequential decision procedure," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 667-681, March.
    12. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
    13. DeCanio, Stephen J. & Watkins, William E., 1998. "Information processing and organizational structure," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 275-294, August.
    14. Delmastro, Marco, 2002. "The determinants of the management hierarchy: evidence from Italian plants," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 119-137, January.
    15. Holmstrom, Bengt R. & Tirole, Jean, 1989. "The theory of the firm," Handbook of Industrial Organization,in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 61-133 Elsevier.
    16. Pieter H.M. Ruys & René van den Brink & Radislav Semenov, 2000. "Values and governance systems," Chapters,in: Institutions, Contracts and Organizations, chapter 27 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    17. Philippe Jehiel, 1999. "Information Aggregation and Communication in Organizations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 45(5), pages 659-669, May.
    18. René van den Brink & Robert P. Gilles, 2003. "Explicit and Latent Authority in Hierarchical Organizations," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 03-102/1, Tinbergen Institute.
    19. Markus Christen & William Boulding & Richard Staelin, 2009. "Optimal Market Intelligence Strategy When Management Attention Is Scarce," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(4), pages 526-538, April.
    20. Massimo G. Colombo & Cristina Rossi-Lamastra, 2013. "The organizational design of high- tech start- ups: state of the art and directions for future research," Chapters,in: Handbook of Economic Organization, chapter 21 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    21. Gradstein, Mark, 1998. "Optimal contest design: volume and timing of rent seeking in contests," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 575-585, November.
    22. Callander, Steven & Plott, Charles R., 2005. "Principles of network development and evolution: an experimental study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(8), pages 1469-1495, August.
    23. Marschak, Thomas, 2006. "Organization Structure," MPRA Paper 81518, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    24. van den Brink, J.R. & Ruys, P.H.M., 2005. "Technological Change, Wages and Firm Size," Discussion Paper 2005-022, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
    25. James D Adams & Adam B Jaffe, 1994. "The Span of the Effect of R&D in the Firm and Industry," Working Papers 94-7, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.

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