IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Flattening Firm and Product Market Competition

  • Guadalupe, Maria
  • Wulf, Julie

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.

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.

File URL:
Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

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.

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7253.

in new window

Date of creation: Apr 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7253
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.:

as in new window
  1. Schmidt, Klaus M, 1997. "Managerial Incentives and Product Market Competition," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(2), pages 191-213, April.
  2. Andrew B. Bernard & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2006. "Multi-Product Firms and Trade Liberalization," NBER Working Papers 12782, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Mathias Dewatripont & Patrick Bolton, 2004. "The firm as a communication network," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9599, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  4. Daniel Trefler, 2006. "The Long and Short of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement," STICERD - Economics of Industry Papers 41, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  5. Kimberly A. Clausing, 2001. "Trade creation and trade diversion in the Canada - United States Free Trade Agreement," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(3), pages 677-696, August.
  6. S. Black & L. Lynch, 1997. "How to compete: the impact of workplace practices and information technology on productivity," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20298, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  7. 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.
  8. Canice Prendergast, 2002. "The Tenuous Trade-off between Risk and Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(5), pages 1071-1102, October.
  9. Baker, George & Gibbs, Michael & Holmstrom, Bengt, 1994. "The Wage Policy of a Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 921-55, November.
  10. Dalia Marin & Thierry Verdier, 2003. "Globalization and the "New Entreprise"," DELTA Working Papers 2003-31, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  11. Kugler, Maurice & Verhoogen, Eric A, 2009. "The Quality-Complementarity Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence from Colombia," CEPR Discussion Papers 7119, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1994. "The Firm as an Incentive System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 972-91, September.
  13. ., 1994. "Firm, Boundaries of the," Chapters, in: The Elgar Companion to Institutional and Evolutionary Economics, chapter 43 Edward Elgar.
  14. Abowd, John M & Lemieux, Thomas, 1993. "The Effects of Product Market Competition on Collective Bargaining Agreements: The Case of Foreign Competition in Canada," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(4), pages 983-1014, November.
  15. Michael P. Keane & Susan E. Feinberg, 2006. "Accounting for the Growth of MNC-Based Trade Using a Structural Model of U.S. MNCs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1515-1558, December.
  16. Philippe Aghion & Nick Bloom & Richard Blundell & Rachel Griffith & Peter Howitt, 2005. "Competition and Innovation: an Inverted-U Relationship," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 701-728.
  17. Dilip Mookherjee, 2006. "Decentralization, Hierarchies, and Incentives: A Mechanism Design Perspective," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(2), pages 367-390, June.
  18. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2002. "Information Technology, Workplace Organization, And The Demand For Skilled Labor: Firm-Level Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 339-376, February.
  19. Keith Head & John Ries, 2001. "Increasing Returns versus National Product Differentiation as an Explanation for the Pattern of U.S.-Canada Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 858-876, September.
  20. ., 1994. "Firm, Theoru of the (I)," Chapters, in: The Elgar Companion to Institutional and Evolutionary Economics, chapter 44 Edward Elgar.
  21. Wouter Dessein & Luis Garicano & Robert Gertner, 2010. "Organizing for Synergies," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 77-114, November.
  22. 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.
  23. anonymous, 1994. "Research confirms rationality of analysts' forecasts," Economics Update, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Apr, pages 2.
  24. Oliver E. Williamson, 1967. "Hierarchical Control and Optimum Firm Size," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 123.
  25. Belén Villalonga, 2004. "Diversification Discount or Premium? New Evidence from the Business Information Tracking Series," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(2), pages 479-506, 04.
  26. David Thesmar & Mathias Thoenig, 2000. "Creative Destruction And Firm Organization Choice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1201-1237, November.
  27. Michael Raith, 2003. "Competition, Risk, and Managerial Incentives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1425-1436, September.
  28. Ann Bartel & Casey Ichniowski & Kathryn Shaw, 2007. "How Does Information Technology Affect Productivity? Plant-Level Comparisons of Product Innovation, Process Improvement, and Worker Skills," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1721-1758, November.
  29. ., 1994. "Firm, Theoru of the (II)," Chapters, in: The Elgar Companion to Institutional and Evolutionary Economics, chapter 45 Edward Elgar.
  30. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1995. "Complementarities and fit strategy, structure, and organizational change in manufacturing," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2-3), pages 179-208, April.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7253. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask to update the entry or send us the correct address

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.