The firm as a communication network
This paper analyzes how organizations can minimize the costs of processing and communicating information. Communication is costly because it takes time for an agent to absorb new information sent by others. Agents can reduce this time by specializing in the processing of particular types of information. When these returns to specialization outweigh the costs of communication, it is efficient for several agents to collaborate within a firm. It is shown that efficient networks involve centralization, that individuals delegate tasks to subordinates only if they are overloaded, and that the number of transits to the top tends to be equalized across individual information items. Copyright 1994, the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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