Wouter Dessein

When Does Coordination Require Centralization?

Coauthor(s): Ricardo Alonso, Niko Matouschek.


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This paper compares centralized and decentralized coordination when managers are privately informed and communicate strategically. We consider a multi-divisional organization in which decisions must be adapted to local conditions but also coordinated with each other. Information about local conditions is dispersed and held by self-interested division managers who communicate via cheap talk. The only available formal mechanism is the allocation of decision rights. We show that a higher need for coordination improves horizontal communication but worsens vertical communication. As a result, decentralization can dominate centralization even when coordination is extremely important relative to adaptation.

Source: American Economic Review
Exact Citation:
Alonso, Ricardo, Wouter Dessein, and Niko Matouschek. "When Does Coordination Require Centralization?" American Economic Review 98, no. 1 (March 2008): 145-179.
Volume: 98
Number: 1
Pages: 145-179
Date: 3 2008