IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The Firm As A Dedicated Hierarchy: A Theory Of The Origins And Growth Of Firms

  • Raghuram G. Rajan
  • Luigi Zingales

In the formative stages of their businesses, entrepreneurs have to provide incentives for employees to protect, rather than steal, the source of organizational rents. We study how the entrepreneur's response to this problem determines the organization's internal structure, growth, and its eventual size. Large, steep hierarchies will predominate in physical-capital-intensive industries, and will have seniority-based promotion policies. By contrast, flat hierarchies will prevail in human-capital-intensive industries and will have up-or-out promotion systems. Furthermore, flat hierarchies will have more distinctive technologies or cultures than steep hierarchies. The model points to some essential differences between organized hierarchies and markets. © 2001 the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:;1-
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 116 (2001)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 805-851

in new window

Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:3:p:805-851
Contact details of provider: Web page:

Order Information: Web:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. 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.
  2. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver, 1985. "The Cost and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 70, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1994. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," IDEI Working Papers 37, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  4. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  5. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-64, October.
  6. Mathias Dewatripont & Patrick Bolton, 2004. "The firm as a communication network," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9599, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  7. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "Trust in Large Organizations," NBER Working Papers 5864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, . "Power in a Theory of the Firm," CRSP working papers 335, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  9. Klein, Benjamin, 1988. "Vertical Integration as Organizational Ownership: The Fisher Body-General Motors Relationship Revisited," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 199-213, Spring.
  10. Hart, Oliver D. & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Scholarly Articles 3448675, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Rosen, Sherwin, 1986. "Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 701-15, September.
  12. Diego Rodríguez, 1999. "New ideas need new space," Economics Working Papers 390, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  13. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1987. "Bargaining and Influence Costs and the Organization of Economic Activity," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt32s7d4jv, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  14. Kumar, Krishna B & Rajan, Raghuram G & Zingales, Luigi, 1999. "What Determines Firm Size?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2211, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
  16. Kahn, Charles & Huberman, Gur, 1988. "Two-sided Uncertainty and "Up-or-Out" Contracts," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(4), pages 423-44, October.
  17. Bengt Holmstrom & John Roberts, 1998. "The Boundaries of the Firm Revisited," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 73-94, Fall.
  18. Akerlof, George A & Katz, Lawrence F, 1989. "Workers' Trust Funds and the Logic of Wage Profiles," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(3), pages 525-36, August.
  19. Sherwin Rosen, 1982. "Authority, Control, and the Distribution of Earnings," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 311-323, Autumn.
  20. Dietmar Harhoff & Thomas J. Kane, 1993. "Financing Apprenticeship Training: Evidence from Germany," NBER Working Papers 4557, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Mailath, George J & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1990. "Workers versus Firms: Bargaining over a Firm's Value," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 369-80, July.
  22. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
  23. Cynthia A. Montgomery & Birger Wernerfelt, 1988. "Diversification, Ricardian Rents, and Tobin's q," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(4), pages 623-632, Winter.
  24. John Sutton, 1997. "Gibrat's Legacy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(1), pages 40-59, March.
  25. Cheung, Steven N S, 1982. "Property Rights in Trade Secrets," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 20(1), pages 40-53, January.
  26. Prescott, Edward C & Visscher, Michael, 1980. "Organization Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(3), pages 446-61, June.
  27. Landes, David S., 1986. "What Do Bosses Really Do?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(03), pages 585-623, September.
  28. Holmstrom, Bengt, 1999. "The Firm as a Subeconomy," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 74-102, April.
  29. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1994. "The Firm as an Incentive System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 972-91, September.
  30. Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972. "Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-95, December.
  31. Lazear, Edward P, 1981. "Agency, Earnings Profiles, Productivity, and Hours Restrictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 606-20, September.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:3:p:805-851. 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: (Anna Pollock-Nelson)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.