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Rent Seeking in Hierarchical Firms


  • Ira N. Gang

    () (Rutgers University)

  • Gil S. Epstein

    () (Bar Ilan University)


Hierarchical firms are enterprises with rigid internal job ladders. We examine the state enterprise as the prototypical hierarchical firm. In the state enterprise, promotion of employees through the internal hierarchy is determined by the workers’ allocation of time between rent seeking and productive activity. Our model shows that given the incentive structure of the state enterprise we tend to see less productive and more adept rent seekers at senior management positions in such firms. Moreover, as we move up the firm’s hierarchy, a decline in the productivity levels of the workers will be observed.

Suggested Citation

  • Ira N. Gang & Gil S. Epstein, 2002. "Rent Seeking in Hierarchical Firms," Departmental Working Papers 200218, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:rut:rutres:200218

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael Keren & David Levhari, 1979. "The Optimum Span of Control in a Pure Hierarchy," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(11), pages 1162-1172, November.
    2. Sah, Raaj Kumar & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1986. "The Architecture of Economic Systems: Hierarchies and Polyarchies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 716-727, September.
    3. Epstein, Gil S & Hillman, Arye L & Ursprung, Heinrich W, 1999. "The King Never Emigrates," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(2), pages 107-121, June.
    4. Rosen, Sherwin, 1986. "Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 701-715, September.
    5. Arye L. Hillman & John G. Riley, 1989. "Politically Contestable Rents And Transfers," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(1), pages 17-39, March.
    6. Jack Hirshleifer, 1989. "Conflict and rent-seeking success functions: Ratio vs. difference models of relative success," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 63(2), pages 101-112, November.
    7. Keren, Michael & Levhari, David, 1989. "Decentralization, aggregation, control loss and costs in a hierarchical model of the firm," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 213-236, March.
    8. Epstein, Gil S., 1996. "The extraction of natural resources from two sites under uncertainty," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 309-313, June.
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    More about this item


    hierarchical firms; internal job ladder; promotion; rent-seeking; state enterprise;

    JEL classification:

    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • L32 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Public Enterprises; Public-Private Enterprises


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