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Turbulence, Firm Decentralization and Growth in Bad Times

Author

Listed:
  • Aghion, Philippe

    () (Birkbeck College, University of London)

  • Bloom, Nicholas

    () (Stanford University)

  • Lucking, Brian

    () (Stanford University)

  • Sadun, Raffaella

    () (Harvard Business School)

  • Van Reenen, John

    () (MIT Sloan School of Management)

Abstract

What is the optimal form of firm organization during "bad times"? Using two large micro datasets on firm decentralization from US administrative data and 10 OECD countries, we find that firms that delegated more power from the Central Headquarters to local plant managers prior to the Great Recession out-performed their centralized counterparts in sectors that were hardest hit by the subsequent crisis. We present a model where higher turbulence benefits decentralized firms because the value of local information and urgent action increases. Since turbulence rises in severe downturns, decentralized firms do relatively better. We show that the data support our model over alternative explanations such as recession-induced reduction in agency costs (due to managerial fears of bankruptcy) and changing coordination costs. Countries with more decentralized firms (like the US) weathered the 2008–09 Great Recession better: these organizational differences could account for about 16% of international differences in post-crisis GDP growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Aghion, Philippe & Bloom, Nicholas & Lucking, Brian & Sadun, Raffaella & Van Reenen, John, 2017. "Turbulence, Firm Decentralization and Growth in Bad Times," IZA Discussion Papers 10706, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10706
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. N. Bloom., 2016. "Fluctuations in uncertainty," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 4.
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    3. Nicholas Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1351-1408.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    decentralization; growth; turbulence; Great Recession;

    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business

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