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Externalities and the Allocation of Decision Rights in the Theory of the Firm

  • Bester, Helmut

This Paper views authority as the right to undertake decisions that have external effects on other members of the organization. Because of contractual incompleteness, monetary incentives are insufficient to internalize these effects in the decision-maker’s objective. The optimal assignment of decision rights minimizes the resulting inefficiencies. We illustrate this in a principal–agent model where the principal retains the authority to select ‘large’ projects but delegates the decision right to the agent to implement ‘small’ projects. Extensions of the model discuss the role of effort incentives, asymmetric information and multi-stage decisions.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3276.

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Date of creation: Mar 2002
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3276
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  1. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 1-29, February.
  2. Mathias Dewatripont & Philippe Aghion & Patrick Rey, 2002. "On partial contracting," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9627, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  3. Segal, Ilya, 1999. "Complexity and Renegotiation: A Foundation for Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 57-82, January.
  4. Grossman, Sanford J. & Hart, Oliver D., 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Scholarly Articles 3450060, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Sanford Grossman & Oliver Hart, . "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 15-80, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  6. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 1992. "An Incomplete Contracts Approach to Financial Contracting," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(3), pages 473-94, July.
  7. 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.
  8. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1998. "Foundations of Incomplete Contracts," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1846, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  9. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 1997. "Power in a Theory of the Firm," NBER Working Papers 6274, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1999. "Unforeseen Contingencies and Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 83-114, January.
  11. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1999. "Two Remarks on the Property-Rights Literature," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 139-49, January.
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