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"Tying the Manager's Hands": How Firms can make Credible Commitments that make Opportunistic Managerial Intervention Less Likely


  • Kirsten Foss
  • Nicolai J. Foss
  • Xose H. Vazquez-Vicente


We discuss and empirically examine a firm-level equivalent of the ancient problem of "tying the King s hands", namely how to maximize managerial intervention for "good cause", while avoiding intervention for "bad cause". Managers may opportunistically intervene when such intervention produces private benefits. Overall firm performance is harmed as a result, because opportunistic managerial intervention harms employee motivation. The central point of the paper is that various mechanisms and factors, such as managers staking their personal reputation, employees controlling important assets, strong trade unions, corporate culture, etc. may function as constraints on managerial proclivities to opportunistically intervene. Thus, firms can make credible commitments that check managerial proclivities to opportunistically intervene. We derive 5 hypotheses from these ideas, and test them, using path-analysis, on a rich dataset, based on 329 firms in the Spanish food and electric/electronic industries.

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  • Kirsten Foss & Nicolai J. Foss & Xose H. Vazquez-Vicente, 2003. ""Tying the Manager's Hands": How Firms can make Credible Commitments that make Opportunistic Managerial Intervention Less Likely," DRUID Working Papers 03-10, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:03-10

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Foss Nicolai J., 2004. "Cognition and Motivation in the Theory of the Firm: Interaction or "Never the Twain Shall Meet"?," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 14(1), pages 1-24, March.

    More about this item


    managerial opportunism; credible commitments; organizational design; transaction cost eco;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation

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