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A Theory of Responsibility in Organizations

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  • Prendergast, Canice J

Abstract

This article considers the implications of allowing a manager discretion over task assignment. If employees earn rents from carrying out tasks and the manager cannot 'sell' the jobs to her subordinates, she has an incentive to take on more tasks than is optimal and delegate too few to a subordinate. The author shows that, although firms can alleviate this incentive by offering output-contingent contracts, even with the optimal contract, (1) the manager carries out too many tasks, (2) she exerts too much effort on her own tasks, and (3) her subordinate exerts too little effort on his tasks. Copyright 1995 by University of Chicago Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Prendergast, Canice J, 1995. "A Theory of Responsibility in Organizations," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(3), pages 387-400, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:13:y:1995:i:3:p:387-400
    DOI: 10.1086/298379
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sherwin Rosen, 1982. "Authority, Control, and the Distribution of Earnings," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 311-323, Autumn.
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    Cited by:

    1. Uwe JIRJAHN & Stephen C. SMITH, 2018. "Nonunion Employee Representation: Theory And The German Experience With Mandated Works Councils," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 89(1), pages 201-233, March.
    2. Björn Bartling & Urs Fischbacher, 2012. "Shifting the Blame: On Delegation and Responsibility," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 67-87.
    3. Radoslawa Nikolowa & Daniel Ferreira, 2018. "How to Sell Jobs," Working Papers 846, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
    4. Brent Boning & Casey Ichniowski & Kathryn Shaw, 2007. "Opportunity Counts: Teams and the Effectiveness of Production Incentives," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(4), pages 613-650.
    5. Anil Arya & Jonathan Glover & Bryan R. Routledge, 2002. "Project Assignment Rights and Incentives for Eliciting Ideas," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(7), pages 886-899, July.
    6. Walter Novaes & Luigi Zingales, 2004. "Bureaucracy as a Mechanism to Generate Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(2), pages 245-259, Summer.
    7. repec:bla:annpce:v:89:y:2018:i:1:p:201-233 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Rafael Hortala‐Vallve & Miguel Sanchez Villalba, 2010. "Internalizing Team Production Externalities through Delegation: The British Passenger Rail Sector as an Example," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 77(308), pages 785-792, October.
    9. Herbold, Daniel, 2013. "Effort Incentives and On-the-Job Search: An Alternative Role for Efficiency Wages in Employment Contracts," VfS Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79983, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    10. Jaime Ortega, 2003. "Power in the Firm and Managerial Career Concerns," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(1), pages 1-29, March.
    11. Cornelissen, Thomas & Jirjahn, Uwe, 2012. "September 11th and the earnings of Muslims in Germany—The moderating role of education and firm size," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 490-504.
    12. Dirk Sliwka, 2006. "On the Notion of Responsibility in Organizations," The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(2), pages 523-547, October.
    13. Rafael Hortala-Vallve & Miguel Sanchez, 2005. "Hierarchic contracting," STICERD - Distributional Analysis Research Programme Papers 73, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    14. Florian Engl, 2022. "A Theory of Causal Responsibility Attribution," CESifo Working Paper Series 9898, CESifo.
    15. Oxoby, Robert J., 2002. "Status characteristics, cognitive bias, and incentives in teams," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 301-316.
    16. Feltus, Christophe & Petit, Michaël & Dubois, Eric, 2014. "Improving Responsibility modelling in Enterprise Architecture, Case Study in the Healthcare Sector," MPRA Paper 77313, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Mixon Jr., Franklin G. & Gómez-Mejia, Luis R., 2020. "The Competitive Struggle to Win Tournaments: The Allies’ Race to Capture Adolf Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest," American Business Review, Pompea College of Business, University of New Haven, vol. 23(1), pages 3-17, May.
    18. Sanchez, Miguel A. & Hortala-Vallve, Rafael, 2005. "Hierarchic contracting," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 6548, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    19. Kathryn Shaw, 2004. "The Human Resources Revolution: Is It a Productivity Driver?," NBER Chapters, in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 4, pages 69-114, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Eric Van den Steen, 2010. "Interpersonal Authority in a Theory of the Firm," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 466-490, March.
    21. repec:eee:labchp:v:3:y:1999:i:pb:p:2373-2437 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. 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.
    23. Pouliakas, Konstantinos & Russo, Giovanni, 2015. "Heterogeneity of Skill Needs and Job Complexity: Evidence from the OECD PIAAC Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 9392, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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