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The Flattening Firm and Product Market Competition

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  • Guadalupe, Maria
  • Wulf, Julie

Abstract

This paper establishes a causal effect of product market competition on various characteristics of organizational design. Using a unique panel dataset on firm hierarchies of large U.S. firms (1986-1999) and a quasi-natural experiment (trade liberalization), we find that increasing competition leads firms to flatten their hierarchies, i.e., (i) firms reduce the number of positions between the CEO and division managers and (ii) increase the number of positions reporting directly to the CEO (span of control). Firms also alter the structure and level of division manager compensation, increasing total pay as well as local (division-level) and global (firm-level) incentives. Our estimates show that for the average firm, span of control increased by 6% and depth decreased by 11% as a result of the quasi-natural experiment.

Suggested Citation

  • Guadalupe, Maria & Wulf, Julie, 2009. "The Flattening Firm and Product Market Competition," CEPR Discussion Papers 7253, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7253
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Marin, Dalia & Rousová, Linda, 2011. "The Organization of European Multinationals," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 367, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    2. Nicholas Bloom & Raffaella Sadun, 2012. "The Organization of Firms Across Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(4), pages 1663-1705.
    3. Conconi, Paola & Legros, Patrick & Newman, Andrew F., 2012. "Trade liberalization and organizational change," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 197-208.
    4. Marin, Dalia & Rousova, Linda & Verdier, Thierry, 2013. "Do Multinationals Transplant their Business Model?," Discussion Papers in Economics 15131, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    5. Nicholas Bloom & Raffaella Sadun & John Van Reenen, 2010. "Does Product Market Competition Lead Firms to Decentralize?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 434-438, May.
    6. Lorenzo Caliendo & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2012. "The Impact of Trade on Organization and Productivity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1393-1467.
    7. Junichiro Ishida, 2012. "Promotion without Commitment: Signaling, Time Inconsistency and Decentralization of the Firm," ISER Discussion Paper 0843, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    8. Kim, E. Han & Lu, Yao, 2011. "CEO ownership, external governance, and risk-taking," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(2), pages 272-292.
    9. Sly, Nicholas, 2010. "Skill Acquisition, Incentive Contracts and Jobs: Labor Market Adjustment to Trade," MPRA Paper 25004, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Paola Conconi & Patrick Legros & Andrew F. Newman, 2008. "Trade Liberalization and Organizational Choice," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-172, Boston University - Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    competition; complementarities; decentralization; hierarchy; incentives; organizational change; organizational structure; performance-related pay;

    JEL classification:

    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
    • M2 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Economics
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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