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Corporate Hierarchies and the Size of Nations: Theory and Evidence

  • Marin, Dalia
  • Verdier, Thierry

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.

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Paper provided by Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich in its series Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems with number 227.

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Date of creation: Feb 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:227
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  1. Elhanan Helpman, 2006. "Trade, FDI, and the Organization of Firms," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2118, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. Nick Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2006. "Measuring and explaining management practices across firms and countries," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 733, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 64, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  4. Philippe Aghion & Jean Tirole, 1994. "Normal and Real Authority in Organizations," Working papers 94-13, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  5. Krugman, Paul R., 1979. "Increasing returns, monopolistic competition, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 469-479, November.
  6. Raghuram Rajan & Henri Servaes & Luigi Zingales, . "The Cost of Diversity: The Diversification Discount and Inefficient Investment," CRSP working papers 357, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  7. Marin, Dalia, 2006. "A new international division of labor in Europe: Outsourcing and offshoring to Eastern Europe," Munich Reprints in Economics 19229, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  8. Marin, Dalia & Verdier, Thierry, 2006. "Power Inside the Firm and the Market: A General Equilibrium Approach," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 109, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  9. Raghuram Rajan & Julie Wulf, 2003. "The Flattening Firm: Evidence from Panel Data on the Changing Nature of Corporate Hierarchies," NBER Working Papers 9633, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Dalia Marin & Thierry Verdier, 2003. "Globalization and the "New Entreprise"," DELTA Working Papers 2003-31, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  11. Marin, Dalia & Verdier, Thierry, 2012. "Globalization and the empowerment of talent," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 209-223.
  12. Ottaviano, Gianmarco & Melitz, Marc, 2008. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," Scholarly Articles 3229096, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-59, December.
  14. Barbara J. Spencer, 2005. "International Outsourcing and Incomplete Contracts," NBER Working Papers 11418, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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.
  16. Marin, Dalia & Verdier, Thierry, 2007. "Competing in Organizations: Firm Heterogeneity and International Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 6342, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  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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