NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

On the Design of Hierarchies: Coordination Versus Specialization

Oliver Hart, John Moore

NBER Working Paper No. 7388
Issued in October 1999
NBER Program(s):Corporate Finance

We develop a model of hierarchies based on the allocation of authority. A firm's owners have ultimate authority over a firm's decisions, but they have limited time or capacity to exercise this authority. Hence owners must delegate authority to subordinates. However, these subordinates also have limited time or capacity and so further delegation must occur. We analyze the optimal chain of command given that different agents have different tasks: some agents are engaged in coordination and others in specialization. Our theory throws light on the nature of hierarchy, the optimal degree of decentralization, and the boundaries of the firm.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7388

Published: Oliver Hart & John Moore, 2005. "On the Design of Hierarchies: Coordination versus Specialization," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(4), pages 675-702, August. citation courtesy of

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