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Diversification and delegation in firms

  • Vittoria Cerasi
  • Sonja Daltung

This paper shows how separation of ownership and control may arise as a response to overload costs, despite agency costs, and how conglomerates arise as solution to information asymmetries in capital markets. In a context where entrepreneurs have the ability to run projects and improve their future cash flow, there could be rationing of credit due to moral hazard between entrepreneurs and investors. Diversification could mitigate the moral hazard problem. However for a single entrepreneur running many different projects might be increasingly costly due to overload costs. Delegating the running of projects to several managers can not only reduce overload costs, but also the moral hazard problem of external financing. In this paper we show that delegation can be the only way to exploit the gains from diversification when overload costs of diversification are high; delegation thus is the key ingredient to be able to diversify.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/24907/
File Function: Open access version.
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 24907.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:24907
Contact details of provider: Postal: LSE Library Portugal Street London, WC2A 2HD, U.K.
Phone: +44 (020) 7405 7686
Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/

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  1. Bengt Holmstrom, 1982. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 324-340, Autumn.
  2. Holmstrom, Bengt & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Financial Intermediation, Loanable Funds, and the Real Sector," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 663-91, August.
  3. Qian, Yingyi, 1994. "Incentives and Loss of Control in an Optimal Hierarchy," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 527-44, July.
  4. V. Cerasi & S. Daltung, 1995. "The Optimal Size of a Bank: Costs and Benefits of Diversification," Departmental Working Papers 1995-05, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
  5. Jeremy C. Stein, 2001. "Agency, Information and Corporate Investment," NBER Working Papers 8342, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1989. "Management entrenchment : The case of manager-specific investments," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 123-139, November.
  8. Li, David D & Li, Shan, 1996. " A Theory of Corporate Scope and Financial Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(2), pages 691-709, June.
  9. Diamond, Douglas W & Dybvig, Philip H, 1983. "Bank Runs, Deposit Insurance, and Liquidity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 401-19, June.
  10. Berger, Philip G. & Ofek, Eli, 1995. "Diversification's effect on firm value," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 39-65, January.
  11. Diamond, Douglas W, 1984. "Financial Intermediation and Delegated Monitoring," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 393-414, July.
  12. Boot, Arnoud W. A. & Schmeits, Anjolein, 2000. "Market Discipline and Incentive Problems in Conglomerate Firms with Applications to Banking," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 240-273, July.
  13. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-29, May.
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