The Limits of Authority: Motivation versus Coordination
This paper studies the effects of open disagreement on motivation and coordination. It shows how - in the presence of differing priors - motivation and coordination impose conflicting demands on the allocation of authority, leading to a trade-off between the two. The paper first derives a new mechanism for delegation: since the agent thinks - by revealed preference applied to differing priors - that his own decisions are better than those of the principal, delegation will motivate him to exert more effort when effort and correct decisions are complements. A need for implementation effort will thus lead to more decentralization. The opposite holds for substitutes. Delegation, however, reduces coordination when people disagree on the right course of action. The paper shows that - with differing priors - the firm needs to rely more on authority (as opposed to incentives) to solve coordination problems, relative to the case with private benefits. An interesting side-result here is that the principal will actively enforce her decisions only at intermediate levels of the need for coordination. The combination of the two main results implies a trade-off between motivation and coordination, both on a firm level and across firms. I derive the motivation-coordination possibility frontier and show the equilibrium distribution of effort versus coordination. I finally argue that strong culture, in the sense of homogeneity, is one (costly) way to relax the trade-off.
|Date of creation:||27 Apr 2007|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (MIT), SLOAN SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT, 50 MEMORIAL DRIVE CAMBRIDGE MASSACHUSETTS 02142 USA|
Web page: http://mitsloan.mit.edu/
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|Order Information:|| Postal: MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (MIT), SLOAN SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT, 50 MEMORIAL DRIVE CAMBRIDGE MASSACHUSETTS 02142 USA|
References listed on IDEAS
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- Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997.
"Formal and Real Authority in Organizations,"
4554125, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Philippe Aghion & Jean Tirole, 1994. "Normal and Real Authority in Organizations," Working papers 94-13, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Philippe Aghion & Jean Tirole, 1994. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Working papers 95-8, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1994. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," IDEI Working Papers 37, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
- Baker, George & Gibbons, Robert & Murphy, Kevin J, 1999. "Informal Authority in Organizations," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 56-73, April.
- Muhamet Yildiz, 2003. "Bargaining without a Common Prior-An Immediate Agreement Theorem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(3), pages 793-811, 05.
- Friebel, Guido & Raith, Michael, 2006.
"Resource Allocation and Firm Scope,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
5763, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Augustin Landier & D. Sraer & David Thesmar, 2009.
"Optimal Dissent in Organizations,"
- Arnoud W. A. Boot & Radhakrishnan Gopalan & Anjan V. Thakor, 2006. "The Entrepreneur's Choice between Private and Public Ownership," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(2), pages 803-836, 04.
- Morris, Stephen, 1994. "Trade with Heterogeneous Prior Beliefs and Asymmetric Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1327-47, November.
- Susan Athey & John Roberts, 2001. "Organizational Design: Decision Rights and Incentive Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 200-205, May.
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