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A Theory of Firm Scope

  • Oliver Hart

    (Harvard University and National Bureau of Economic Research.)

  • Bengt Holmstrom

    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and National Bureau of Economic Research.)

The formal literature on firm boundaries has assumed that ex post conflicts are resolved through bargaining. In reality, parties often simply exercise their decision rights. We develop a model, based on shading, in which the use of authority has a central role. We consider two firms deciding whether to adopt a common standard. Nonintegrated firms may fail to coordinate if one firm loses. An integrated firm can internalize the externality, but puts insufficient weight on employee benefits. We use our approach to understand why Cisco acquired StrataCom, a provider of new transmission technology. We also analyze delegation. (c) 2010 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology..

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

Volume (Year): 125 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 483-513

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:125:y:2010:i:2:p:483-513
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  15. Hart, Oliver D. & Moore, John, 2005. "On the Design of Hierarchies: Coordination Versus Specialization," Scholarly Articles 3448676, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. Holmstrom, Bengt, 1999. "The Firm as a Subeconomy," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 74-102, April.
  17. Heikki Rantakari, 2008. "Governing Adaptation -super-1," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1257-1285.
  18. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817.
  19. Jeremy C. Stein, 1995. "Internal Capital Markets and the Competition for Corporate Resources," NBER Working Papers 5101, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Rey, Patrick & Dewatripont, Mathias & Aghion, Philippe, 2004. "Transferable Control," Scholarly Articles 4481511, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  21. Chiu, Y Stephen, 1998. "Noncooperative Bargaining, Hostages, and Optimal Asset Ownership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 882-901, September.
  22. 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.
  23. Antoinette Schoar, 2002. "Effects of Corporate Diversification on Productivity," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(6), pages 2379-2403, December.
  24. Roman Inderst & Christian Laux, 2005. "Incentives in Internal Capital Markets: Capital Constraints, Competition, and Investment Opportunities," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(1), pages 215-228, Spring.
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  27. David De Meza & Ben Lockwood, 1998. "Does Asset Ownership Always Motivate Managers? Outside Options And The Property Rights Theory Of The Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 361-386, May.
  28. 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.
  29. Oliver Hart, 2009. "Hold-Up, Asset Ownership, and Reference Points-super-," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(1), pages 267-300, February.
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