IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/awi/wpaper/0468.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Too Few Cooks Spoil the Broth: Division of Labour and Directed Production

Author

Listed:
  • Marisa Ratto

    (Université Paris-Dauphine (SDFi))

  • Wendelin Schnedler

    (University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics)

Abstract

How can a manager influence workers' activity while knowing little about it? This paper examines a situation where production requires several tasks, and the manager wants to direct production to achieve a preferred allocation of effort across tasks. However, the effort that is required for each task cannot be observed, and the production result is the only indicator of worker activity. This paper illustrates that in this situation, the manager cannot implement the preferred allocation with a single worker. On the other hand, the manager is able to implement the preferred allocation by inducing a game among several workers. Gains to workers from collusion may be eliminated by an ability-dependent, but potentially inefficient, task assignment. These findings provide a new explanation for the division of labor, and bureaucratic features such as "over"-specialization and "wrong" task allocation.

Suggested Citation

  • Marisa Ratto & Wendelin Schnedler, 2008. "Too Few Cooks Spoil the Broth: Division of Labour and Directed Production," Working Papers 0468, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:awi:wpaper:0468
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.uni-heidelberg.de/md/awi/forschung/dp468.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Itoh, Hideshi, 1992. "Cooperation in Hierarchical Organizations: An Incentive Perspective," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(2), pages 321-345, April.
    2. Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972. "Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-795, December.
    3. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J, 2000. "Multitask Learning and the Reorganization of Work: From Tayloristic to Holistic Organization," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 353-376, July.
    4. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1994. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," NBER Chapters, in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education, Third Edition, pages 299-322, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Canice Prendergast, 2003. "The Limits of Bureaucratic Efficiency," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(5), pages 929-958, October.
    6. Roland Strausz, 1997. "Delegation of Monitoring in a Principal-Agent Relationship," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(3), pages 337-357.
    7. Patrick Bolton & Mathias Dewatripont, 1994. "The Firm as a Communication Network," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 809-839.
    8. repec:dau:papers:123456789/6986 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Itoh, Hideshi, 1991. "Incentives to Help in Multi-agent Situations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 611-636, May.
    10. Bengt Holmstrom, 1982. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 324-340, Autumn.
    11. Mathias Dewatripont & Ian Jewitt & Jean Tirole, 1999. "The Economics of Career Concerns, Part II: Application to Missions and Accountability of Government Agencies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 199-217.
    12. Susan Athey & John Roberts, 2001. "Organizational Design: Decision Rights and Incentive Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 200-205, May.
    13. Gibbons, Robert & Murphy, Kevin J, 1992. "Optimal Incentive Contracts in the Presence of Career Concerns: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 468-505, June.
    14. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
    15. Ratto Marisa & Schnedler Wendelin, 2008. "Too Few Cooks Spoil the Broth: Division of Labor and Directed Production," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-19, August.
    16. Taylor, Frederick Winslow, 1911. "The Principles of Scientific Management," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number taylor1911.
    17. George Baker, 2002. "Distortion and Risk in Optimal Incentive Contracts," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(4), pages 728-751.
    18. Fama, Eugene F, 1980. "Agency Problems and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 288-307, April.
    19. Mathias Dewatripont & Ian Jewitt & Jean Tirole, 1999. "The Economics of Career Concerns, Part II: Application to Missions and Accountability of Government Agencies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 199-217.
    20. Tirole, Jean, 1986. "Hierarchies and Bureaucracies: On the Role of Collusion in Organizations," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 2(2), pages 181-214, Fall.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Balmaceda, Felipe, 2016. "Optimal task assignments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 1-18.
    2. Grout, Paul & Schnedler, Wendelin, 2008. "Non-Profit Organizations in a Bureaucratic Environment," IZA Discussion Papers 3685, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Jenny Kragl & Anja Schöttner, 2014. "Wage Floors, Imperfect Performance Measures, And Optimal Job Design," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 55(2), pages 525-550, May.
    4. Ratto Marisa & Schnedler Wendelin, 2008. "Too Few Cooks Spoil the Broth: Division of Labor and Directed Production," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-19, August.
    5. Felipe Balmaceda, 2012. "On the Optimality of One-size-fits-all Contracts: The Limited Liability Case," Documentos de Trabajo 291, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    6. Christian Espinosa & Juan Gorigoitía & Carlos Maquieira, 2012. "Nonlinear behaviour of EMBI index:the case of eastern European countries," Working Papers 37, Facultad de Economía y Empresa, Universidad Diego Portales.
    7. Balmaceda, Felipe, 2018. "Optimal task assignments with loss-averse agents," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 1-26.
    8. Jenny Kragl & Anja Schöttner, 2014. "Wage Floors, Imperfect Performance Measures, And Optimal Job Design," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 55, pages 525-550, May.
    9. Kragl, Jenny & Schöttner, Anja, 2011. "Wage floors and optimal job design," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers 01/2011, University of Bonn, Bonn Graduate School of Economics (BGSE).

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Ratto, Marisa & Schnedler, Wendelin, 2005. "Division of Labour and Directed Production," IZA Discussion Papers 1669, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Jed DeVaro & Oliver Gürtler, 2016. "Strategic Shirking: A Theoretical Analysis Of Multitasking And Specialization," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 57(2), pages 507-532, May.
    3. Balmaceda, Felipe, 2016. "Optimal task assignments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 1-18.
    4. Balmaceda, Felipe, 2018. "Optimal task assignments with loss-averse agents," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 1-26.
    5. Meagher, Kieron & Prasad, Suraj, 2016. "Career concerns and team talent," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 1-17.
    6. repec:eee:labchp:v:3:y:1999:i:pb:p:2373-2437 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Meyer, Margaret A. & Olsen, Trond E. & Torsvik, Gaute, 1996. "Limited intertemporal commitment and job design," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 401-417, December.
    8. Laurence E. Lynn Jr. & Carolyn J. Hill, 2001. "Producing Human Services: Why Do Agencies Collaborate?," JCPR Working Papers 219, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    9. Fahad Khalil & Doyoung Kim & Jacques Lawarrée, 2013. "Contracts offered by bureaucrats," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 44(4), pages 686-711, December.
    10. Oddvar M. Kaarbøe & Trond E. Olsen, 2008. "Distorted Performance Measures and Dynamic Incentives," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(1), pages 149-183, March.
    11. Friebel, Guido & Schnedler, Wendelin, 2011. "Team governance: Empowerment or hierarchical control," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 78(1-2), pages 1-13, April.
    12. Dietrichson, Jens, 2013. "Coordination Incentives, Performance Measurement and Resource Allocation in Public Sector Organizations," Working Papers 2013:26, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    13. Edward P. Lazear & Paul Oyer, 2012. "Personnel Economics," Introductory Chapters, in: Robert Gibbons & John Roberts (ed.),The Handbook of Organizational Economics, Princeton University Press.
    14. Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "Personnel Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121883.
    15. Hakenes, Hendrik & Katolnik, Svetlana, 2017. "On the incentive effects of job rotation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 424-441.
    16. Simon Burgess & Carol Propper & Marisa Ratto & Emma Tominey, 2017. "Incentives in the Public Sector: Evidence from a Government Agency," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(605), pages 117-141, October.
    17. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J, 2000. "Multitask Learning and the Reorganization of Work: From Tayloristic to Holistic Organization," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 353-376, July.
    18. Felipe Balmaceda, 2012. "On the Optimality of One-size-fits-all Contracts: The Limited Liability Case," Documentos de Trabajo 291, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    19. Martin, Ludivine, 2007. "The impact of technological changes on incentives and motivations to work hard," IRISS Working Paper Series 2007-15, IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD.
    20. Luis Garicano & Luis Rayo, 2016. "Why Organizations Fail: Models and Cases," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(1), pages 137-192, March.
    21. Gjedrem, William Gilje & Kvaløy, Ola, 2020. "Relative performance feedback to teams," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(C).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    specialization; job design; moral hazard; multitasking;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:awi:wpaper:0468. 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: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/awheide.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Gabi Rauscher The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask Gabi Rauscher to update the entry or send us the correct address (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/awheide.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.