Resource Allocation and Firm Scope
We develop a theory of firm scope in which integrating two firms into one facilitates the allocation of resources, but leads to weaker incentives for effort, compared with non-integration. Our theory makes minimal assumptions about the underlying agency problem. Moreover, the benefits and costs of integration originate from the same problem: to allocate resources e±ciently, the integrated firm's top management must obtain information about the possible use of resources from division managers. The division managers' job is to create profitable investment projects. Giving the managers incentives to do so biases them endogenously towards their own divisions, and gives them a motive to overstate the quality of their projects in order to receive more resources. We show that paying managers based on firm performance in addition to individual performance can establish truthful upward communication, but creates a free-rider problem and raises the cost of inducing effort. This effect exists even though with perfect information, centralized resource allocation would improve the managers' incentives. The resulting tradeoff between a better use of resources and diminished incentives for effort determines whether integration or non-integration is optimal. Our theory thus provides a simple answer to Williamson's 'selective-intervention" puzzle concerning the limits of firm size and scope. In addition, we provide an incentive-based argument for the prevalence of hierarchically structured firms in which higher-level managers coordinate the actions of lower-level managers.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
|Date of creation:||Jul 2006|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.|
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820
|Order Information:|| Email: |
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1987.
"Bargaining and Influence Costs and the Organization of Economic Activity,"
Department of Economics, Working Paper Series
qt32s7d4jv, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Paul Milgrom and John Roberts., 1987. "Bargaining and Influence Costs and the Organization of Economic Activity," Economics Working Papers 8731, University of California at Berkeley.
- Philippe Aghion & Patrick Bolton, 1992. "An Incomplete Contracts Approach to Financial Contracting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(3), pages 473-494.
- Robert H. Gertner & David S. Scharfstein & Jeremy C. Stein, 1994. "Internal versus External Capital Markets," NBER Working Papers 4776, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Itoh, Hideshi, 1991. "Incentives to Help in Multi-agent Situations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 611-636, May.
- Bengt Holmstrom, 1982. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 324-340, Autumn.
- Bengt Holmstrom, 1981. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Discussion Papers 471, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- Robert H. Gertner & David S. Scharfstein & Jeremy C. Stein, 1994. "Internal versus External Capital Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1211-1230.
- Jacques Cremer, 1980. "A Partial Theory of the Optimal Organization of a Bureaucracy," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 11(2), pages 683-693, Autumn.
- Gibbons, Robert, 2005. "Four forma(lizable) theories of the firm?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 200-245, October.
- Geanakoplos, John & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "A theory of hierarchies based on limited managerial attention," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 205-225, September.
- John Geanakoplos & Paul R. Milgrom, 1988. "A Theory of Hierarchies Based on Limited Managerial Attention," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 775R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- Povel, Paul, 1999. "Optimal "Soft" or "Tough" Bankruptcy Procedures," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 659-684, October.
- Povel, Paul, 1999. "Optimal "Soft" or "Tough" Bankruptcy Procedures," Papers 98-31, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
- Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-1451, November.
- V. Crawford & J. Sobel, 2010. "Strategic Information Transmission," Levine's Working Paper Archive 544, David K. Levine.
- Luis Garicano, 2000. "Hierarchies and the Organization of Knowledge in Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 874-904, October.
- Harris, Milton & Raviv, Artur, 1996. " The Capital Budgeting Process: Incentives and Information," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(4), pages 1139-1174, September. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)