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Task assignment and organizational form


  • Puschke, Kerstin


This paper shows that a firm prefers a process-based task assignment compared to a function based one if the tasks are from functional areas which are neither too complementary nor too substitutable. We consider several projects with contributions from several functional areas. The organization can be structured along processes like product lines (M-form) or along functional areas like marketing or production (U-form). The U-form enables cost savings due to specialization or scale economies. We show that the more effective incentives under the M-form might outweigh these savings if the functions are neither too complementary nor too substitutable.

Suggested Citation

  • Puschke, Kerstin, 2006. "Task assignment and organizational form," Discussion Papers 2006/19, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:fubsbe:200619

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Eyal Winter, 2004. "Incentives and Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 764-773, June.
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    4. Wouter Dessein & Luis Garicano & Robert Gertner, 2010. "Organizing for Synergies," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 77-114, November.
    5. Yingyi Qian & Gerard Roland & Chenggang Xu, 2006. "Coordination and Experimentation in M-Form and U-Form Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 366-402, April.
    6. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
    7. Eric Maskin & Yingyi Qian & Chenggang Xu, 2000. "Incentives, Information, and Organizational Form," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(2), pages 359-378.
    8. Holmstrom, Bengt R. & Tirole, Jean, 1989. "The theory of the firm," Handbook of Industrial Organization,in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 61-133 Elsevier.
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    10. Besanko, David & Régibeau, Pierre & Rockett, Katharine, 2000. "A Multi-Task Principal-Agent Approach to Organizational Form," CEPR Discussion Papers 2443, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1995. "Some implications of growth for organizational form and ownership structure," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 440-455, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Emilie Dargaud & Armel Jacques, 2015. "Hidden collusion by decentralization: firm organization and antitrust policy," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 114(2), pages 153-176, March.
    2. Koulovatianos, Christos & Schrder, Carsten & Schmidt, Ulrich, 2009. "Nonmarket Household Time and the Cost of Children," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 27, pages 42-51.
    3. Te Bao & Yongqin Wang, 2012. "Incomplete contract, bargaining and optimal divisional structure," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 107(1), pages 81-96, September.
    4. Schöttner, Anja & Rohlfing-Bastian, Anna, 2015. "Optimal Allocation of Decision-Making Authority and the Provision of Incentives under Uncertainty," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113200, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item


    Task Assignment; Organizational Form; Incomplete Contracts;

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production


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