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Corporate Hierarchies and the Size of Nations: Theory and Evidence

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  • Marin, Dalia
  • Verdier, Thierry

Abstract

Corporate organization varies within a country and across countries with country size. The paper starts by establishing some facts about corporate organization based on unique data of 660 Austrian and German corporations. The larger country (Germany) has larger firms with flatter and more decentralized corporate hierarchies compared to the smaller country (Austria). Firms in the larger country change their organization less fast than firms in the smaller country. Over time firms have been introducing less hierarchical organizations by delegating power to lower levels of the corporation. We develop a theory which explains these facts and which links these features to the trade environment that countries and firms face. We introduce firms with internal hierarchies in a Krugman (1980) cum Melitz and Ottaviano (2007) model of trade. We show that international trade and the toughness of competition in international markets induce a power struggle in firms which eventually leads to decentralized corporate hierarchies. We offer empirical evidence which is consistent with the models predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Marin, Dalia & Verdier, Thierry, 2008. "Corporate Hierarchies and the Size of Nations: Theory and Evidence," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 227, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:227
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    File URL: https://epub.ub.uni-muenchen.de/13325/1/227.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dalia Marin & Thierry Verdier, 2008. "Power Inside The Firm and The Market: A General Equilibrium Approach," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(4), pages 752-788, June.
    2. Marin, Dalia & Verdier, Thierry, 2012. "Globalization and the empowerment of talent," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 209-223.
    3. Elhanan Helpman, 2006. "Trade, FDI, and the Organization of Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(3), pages 589-630, September.
    4. 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.
    5. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 1-29, February.
    6. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano, 2008. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(1), pages 295-316.
    7. Marin, Dalia & Verdier, Thierry, 2007. "Competing in Organizations: Firm Heterogeneity and International Trade," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 207, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    8. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-959, December.
    9. Raghuram Rajan & Henri Servaes & Luigi Zingales, 2000. "The Cost of Diversity: The Diversification Discount and Inefficient Investment," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(1), pages 35-80, February.
    10. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
    11. Dalia Marin, 2006. "A New International Division of Labor in Europe: Outsourcing and Offshoring to Eastern Europe," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(2-3), pages 612-622, 04-05.
    12. Raghuram G. Rajan & Julie Wulf, 2006. "The Flattening Firm: Evidence from Panel Data on the Changing Nature of Corporate Hierarchies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(4), pages 759-773, November.
    13. Barbara Spencer, 2005. "International outsourcing and incomplete contracts," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(4), pages 1107-1135, November.
    14. Krugman, Paul R., 1979. "Increasing returns, monopolistic competition, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 469-479, November.
    15. Dalia Marin & Thierry Verdier, 2003. "Globalization and the New Enterprise," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 337-344, 04/05.
    16. Patrick Bolton & David S. Scharfstein, 1998. "Corporate Finance, the Theory of the Firm, and Organizations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 95-114, Fall.
    17. Bengt Holmstrom & Steven N. Kaplan, 2001. "Corporate Governance and Merger Activity in the United States: Making Sense of the 1980s and 1990s," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 121-144, Spring.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    international trade with endogenous firm organizations; endogenous congruence in the firm; corporate organization in similar countries; empirical test of the theory of the firm;

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • 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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