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Hierarchy Size and Environmental Uncertainty

Author

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  • Meagher, Kieron J
  • Orbay, Hakan
  • Van Zandt, Timothy

Abstract

We examine how a firm's changing environment and the information constraints of its managers interact as determinants of the size of the firm's administration. Following the recent decentralised information processing literature, we assume that it takes individual managers time to process information. A consequence is that it takes time for a firm to aggregate information, even when this task is shared. This delay increases with the amount of information that is aggregated, leading to the following trade-off: the more data the firm samples each period (and hence the larger its managerial staff), the more precisely it can estimate the state that its environment was in when the sample was taken but the more the environment has changed by the time these data are used to estimate the current state. We explore this trade-off for two computation models and for both a benchmark case of costless managers and the case of costly managers. When managers are costless, the size of the administrative staff increases monotonically, as the environment becomes more stable. In contrast, when managers are costly, optimal managerial size first increases and then decreases as a function of environmental stability.

Suggested Citation

  • Meagher, Kieron J & Orbay, Hakan & Van Zandt, Timothy, 2001. "Hierarchy Size and Environmental Uncertainty," CEPR Discussion Papers 2839, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2839
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Milgrom, Paul & Shannon, Chris, 1994. "Monotone Comparative Statics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(1), pages 157-180, January.
    2. Orbay, Hakan, 2002. "Information Processing Hierarchies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 370-407, August.
    3. Vives, Xavier, 1990. "Nash equilibrium with strategic complementarities," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 305-321.
    4. Timothy van Zandt, 1999. "Real-Time Decentralized Information Processing as a Model of Organizations with Boundedly Rational Agents," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(3), pages 633-658.
    5. Timothy Van Zandt & Roy Radner, 1998. "Real-Time Decentralized Information Processing and Returns to Scale," Discussion Papers 1233, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    6. Timothy Van Zandt, 1998. "The scheduling and organization of periodic associative computation: Efficient networks," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 3(2), pages 93-127.
    7. Radner, Roy, 1993. "The Organization of Decentralized Information Processing," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(5), pages 1109-1146, September.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Grüner, Hans Peter, 2009. "Information technology: Efficient restructuring and the productivity puzzle," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 916-929, December.
    2. Grüner, Hans Peter, 2007. "Information Technology, Efficient Restructuring and the Productivity Puzzle," CEPR Discussion Papers 6109, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Grüner, Hans Peter, 2007. "Protocol Design and (De-)Centralization," CEPR Discussion Papers 6357, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Grüner, Hans Peter & Schulte, Elisabeth, 2010. "Speed and quality of collective decision making: Incentives for information provision," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 734-747, December.
    5. Schulte, Elisabeth & Peter Gruner, Hans, 2007. "Speed and quality of collective decision making: Imperfect information processing," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 138-154, May.
    6. Hans Peter Grüner & Elisabeth Schulte, 2004. "Speed and Quality of Collective Decision Making: Incentives for," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000417, UCLA Department of Economics.
    7. Orbay, Hakan, 2002. "Information Processing Hierarchies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 370-407, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bounded Rationality; Decentralisation; Hierachies;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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