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On the Design of Hierarchies: Coordination Versus Specialization

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  • Oliver Hart
  • John Moore

Abstract

We develop a model of hierarchies based on the allocation of authority. A firm's owners have ultimate authority over a firm's decisions, but they have limited time or capacity to exercise this authority. Hence owners must delegate authority to subordinates. However, these subordinates also have limited time or capacity and so further delegation must occur. We analyze the optimal chain of command given that different agents have different tasks: some agents are engaged in coordination and others in specialization. Our theory throws light on the nature of hierarchy, the optimal degree of decentralization, and the boundaries of the firm.

Suggested Citation

  • Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1999. "On the Design of Hierarchies: Coordination Versus Specialization," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1880, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1880
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights

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