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On the Design of Hierarchies: Coordination Versus Specialization

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  • Oliver Hart
  • John Moore

Abstract

We develop a model of hierarchies based on the allocation of authority. A firm's owners have ultimate authority over a firm's decisions, but they have limited time or capacity to exercise this authority. Hence owners must delegate authority to subordinates. However, these subordinates also have limited time or capacity and so further delegation must occur. We analyze the optimal chain of command given that different agents have different tasks: some agents are engaged in coordination and others in specialization. Our theory throws light on the nature of hierarchy, the optimal degree of decentralization, and the boundaries of the firm.

Suggested Citation

  • Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1999. "On the Design of Hierarchies: Coordination Versus Specialization," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series 375, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:stitep:375
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    File URL: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/te/te375.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Michael D. Hurd & James P. Smith, 2001. "Anticipated and Actual Bequests," NBER Chapters,in: Themes in the Economics of Aging, pages 357-392 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    5. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
    6. Alfred D. Chandler, 1969. "Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of the American Industrial Enterprise," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262530090, January.
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    13. Bolton, Patrick & Farrell, Joseph, 1990. "Decentralization, Duplication, and Delay," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 803-826, August.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    organisations; hierarchies; coordination; specialisation;

    JEL classification:

    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights

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