IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Anatomy of a Price Cut: Discovering Organizational Sources of the Costs of Price Adjustment

  • Mark J. Zbaracki
  • Mark Bergen
  • Daniel Levy

The fact that organizations find it hard to change in response to shocks in the environment is a crucial feature of the economy. Yet we know little about why it is so difficult for organizations to adjust, and where these limitations come from. In an effort to discover some of these reasons we ground ourselves in the context of price adjustment, and present a qualitative analysis of an intensive ethnographic field study of the pricing practices at a one-billion dollar Midwestern industrial manufacturing firm and its customers. We go into depth on a specific episode, a price cut, which most vividly exemplifies the themes that emerged from our data. In the specific situation, market forces clearly dictate that the firm should cut prices, and everyone in the firm agrees with this assessment, suggesting a fairly straightforward price adjustment decision. Yet when we look deeper, and dissect how the firm implemented the price cut, we uncover a rich tapestry of frictions hidden within the organization. At their core, these frictions relate to how managers, in the context of an organization, attempt to apply the fundamental elements of economic theory. Essentially they face a series of constraints that make sense in the context of an organization trying to make these adjustments, but constraints that are rarely articulated or incorporated into economic understanding of price adjustment. We discover that the largest barriers to price adjustment are related to disputes arising from collisions between "partial models" used by different organizational participants as they confront fundamental economic issues. Often, these issues have not been settled and exist in a tenuous truce within the organization and adjustment requires the organization to deal with them in order to react to these changes.

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: http://economics.emory.edu/home/assets/workingpapers/levy_06_10_paper.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta) in its series Emory Economics with number 0610.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Aug 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:emo:wp2003:0610
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://economics.emory.edu/home/journals/
Email:


More information through EDIRC

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. Carlton, Dennis W., 1989. "The theory and the facts of how markets clear: Is industrial organization valuable for understanding macroeconomics?," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 15, pages 909-946 Elsevier.
  2. Fabiani, Silvia & Druant, Martine & Hernando, Ignacio & Kwapil, Claudia & Landau, Bettina & Loupias, Claire & Martins, Fernando & Mathä, Thomas Y. & Sabbatini, Roberto & Stahl, Harald & Stokman, Ad C., 2005. "The pricing behaviour of firms in the euro area: new survey evidence," Working Paper Series 0535, European Central Bank.
  3. Amato, Jeffery D. & Laubach, Thomas, 2003. "Rule-of-thumb behaviour and monetary policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(5), pages 791-831, October.
  4. Carlton, Dennis W, 1986. "The Rigidity of Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 637-58, September.
  5. Ball, Laurence & Gregory Mankiw, N. & Reis, Ricardo, 2005. "Monetary policy for inattentive economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 703-725, May.
  6. Michael Dotsey & Robert G. King, 2005. "Implications of State Dependent-Pricing for Dynamic Macroeconomic Models," Boston University - Department of Economics - Macroeconomics Working Papers Series WP2005-002, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  7. Julio Rotemberg, 1987. "The New Keynesian Microfoundations," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1987, Volume 2, pages 69-116 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Julio J. Rotemberg & Garth Saloner, 1995. "Overt Interfunctional Conflict (and its Reduction Through Business Strategy)," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(4), pages 630-653, Winter.
  9. Anil K Kashyap, 1994. "Sticky Prices: New Evidence from Retail Catalogs," NBER Working Papers 4855, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Mark Zbaracki & Mark Ritson & Daniel Levy & Shantanu Dutta & Mark Bergen, 2004. "Managerial and Customer Costs of Price Adjustment: Direct Evidence from Industrial Markets," Macroeconomics 0402020, EconWPA.
  11. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Price Rigidities and Market Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 350-55, May.
  12. McCallum, Bennett T, 1986. "On "Real' and "Sticky-Price' Theories of the Business Cycle," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 18(4), pages 397-414, November.
  13. Gali, Jordi & Gertler, Mark, 1999. "Inflation dynamics: A structural econometric analysis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 195-222, October.
  14. Rotemberg, Julio J., 2005. "Customer anger at price increases, changes in the frequency of price adjustment and monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 829-852, May.
  15. Gordon, Robert J, 1990. "What Is New-Keynesian Economics?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(3), pages 1115-71, September.
  16. Ball, Laurence & Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1994. "A sticky-price manifesto," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 127-151, December.
  17. Bewley, Truman, 2002. "Interviews as a valid empirical tool in economics," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 343-353.
  18. Cecchetti, Stephen G., 1986. "The frequency of price adjustment : A study of the newsstand prices of magazines," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 255-274, April.
  19. Sheshinski, Eytan & Weiss, Yoram, 1977. "Inflation and Costs of Price Adjustment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(2), pages 287-303, June.
  20. Slade, Margaret E, 1998. "Optimal Pricing with Costly Adjustment: Evidence from Retail-Grocery Prices," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(1), pages 87-107, January.
  21. Sheshinski, Eytan & Weiss, Yoram, 1992. "Staggered and Synchronized Price Policies under Inflation: The Multiproduct Monopoly Case," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(2), pages 331-59, 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:emo:wp2003:0610. 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: (Sue Mialon)

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.