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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 of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10706
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    6. Shuo Liu & Dimitri Migrow, 2019. "Designing organizations in volatile markets," ECON - Working Papers 319, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
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    9. Cumming, Fergus, 2022. "Mortgage cash-flows and employment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 144(C).
    10. Daniel Habermacher, 2022. "Authority and Specialization under Informational Interdependence," Working Papers 142, Red Nacional de Investigadores en Economía (RedNIE).
    11. Juliana Oliveira-Cunha & Capucine Riom & Anna Valero, 2021. "The business response to Covid-19 one year on: findings from the second wave of the CEP-CBI survey on technology adoption," CEP Covid-19 Analyses cepcovid-19-024, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    12. Muhammad Rafiq & Shumaila Naz & José Moleiro Martins & Mário Nuno Mata & Pedro Neves Mata & Saif Maqbool, 2021. "A Study on Emerging Management Practices of Renewable Energy Companies after the Outbreak of Covid-19: Using an Interpretive Structural Modeling (ISM) Approach," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(6), pages 1-15, March.
    13. Apoorva Gupta, 2019. "R&D and firm resilience during bad times," Discussion Papers 2019-12, University of Nottingham, GEP.
    14. Dongmin Kong & Ling Zhu & Ni Qin, 2022. "Does corruption shape firm centralisation? Evidence from state‐owned enterprises in China," Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 62(3), pages 3365-3395, September.
    15. Argente, David & Lee, Munseob & Moreira, Sara, 2018. "Innovation and product reallocation in the great recession," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 1-20.
    16. Ummad Mazhar, 2021. "Terrorism Risk and the Mediating Role of Manager Experience: Empirical Evidence," Asian Economic Journal, East Asian Economic Association, vol. 35(3), pages 317-337, September.
    17. Achyuta Adhvaryu & Anant Nyshadham & Jorge A. Tamayo, 2019. "Managerial Quality and Productivity Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 25852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Molina-Domene, Maria, 2018. "Labor specialization as a source of market frictions," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 91703, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    19. Fernandes, Ana P. & Ferreira, Priscila, 2021. "Executives’ gender pay gap and financing constraints," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 192(C), pages 381-404.
    20. Achyuta Adhvaryu & Namrata Kala & Anant Nyshadham, 2019. "Management and Shocks to Worker Productivity," NBER Working Papers 25865, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Namrata Kala, 2019. "The Impacts of Managerial Autonomy on Firm Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 26304, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Tang, Qihe & Tong, Zhiwei & Yang, Yang, 2021. "Large portfolio losses in a turbulent market," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 292(2), pages 755-769.
    23. Fakhimi, MohammadAmin & Miremadi, Iman, 2022. "The impact of technological and social capabilities on innovation performance: a technological catch-up perspective," Technology in Society, Elsevier, vol. 68(C).
    24. Irina Levina, 2018. "Decentralization of Firms in a Country with Weak Institutions: Evidence from Russia," Working Papers 375, Leibniz Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung (Institute for East and Southeast European Studies).
    25. García-Vega, María, 2022. "R&D restructuring during the Great Recession and young firms," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    decentralization; growth; turbulence; Great Recession;
    All these keywords.

    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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