On the Notion of Responsibility in Organizations
Posted: 29 Feb 2008
Date Written: October 2006
We derive a natural definition of responsibility in a formal model in which employees care for their career prospects: A superior holds a subordinate responsible for a task when she announces her belief that this subordinate contributes most to this task. We show that those announced beliefs lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the reputation of the responsible subordinate is then affected by the outcome of the task and he therefore has strong incentives to contribute to its success. There are equilibria in which either a single agent or no agent is responsible for a task but joint responsibility never arises. Several extensions are discussed.
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