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Managerial diseconomies of scale: Literature survey and hypotheses anchored in transaction cost economics

Author

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  • Staffan Canback

    (Henley Management College)

Abstract

This working paper tests Oliver Williamson’s proposition that transaction cost economics can explain the limits of firm size. A review of the relevant literature corroborates Williamson’s theoretical framework and five hypotheses are formulated: (1) Bureaucratic failure, in the form of atmospheric consequences, bureaucratic insularity, incentive limits and communication distortion, increases with firm size; (2) Large firms exhibit economies of scale; (3) Diseconomies of scale from bureaucratic failure have a negative impact on firm performance; (4) Economies of scale increase the relative profitability of large firms over smaller firms; and (5) Diseconomies of scale are moderated by two transaction cost-related factors: organisation form and asset specificity. (The working paper is the foundation for the doctoral thesis “Bureaucratic Limits of Firm Size: Empirical Analysis Using Transaction Cost Economics” (Canback 2002) available at http://canback.com/henley.htm, the British Library, and UMI. The thesis contains a full statistical analysis of the hypotheses described in this paper, based on a sample of 784 U.S. manufacturing firms.)

Suggested Citation

  • Staffan Canback, 1998. "Managerial diseconomies of scale: Literature survey and hypotheses anchored in transaction cost economics," Industrial Organization 9810001, EconWPA, revised 04 Oct 2002.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpio:9810001
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    File URL: http://econwpa.repec.org/eps/io/papers/9810/9810001.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
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    5. Henry Ogden Armour & David J. Teece, 1978. "Organizational Structure and Economic Performance: A Test of the Multidivisional Hypothesis," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(1), pages 106-122, Spring.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    transaction cost economics; diseconomies of scale; bureaucratic failure;

    JEL classification:

    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior

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