Information Production and Capital Allocation: Decentralized vs. Hierarchical Firms

49 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2000 Last revised: 17 Oct 2010

See all articles by Jeremy C. Stein

Jeremy C. Stein

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 2000

Abstract

This paper assesses different organizational forms in terms of their ability to generate information about investment projects and allocate capital to these projects efficiently. A decentralized approach with small, single-manager firms is most likely to be attractive when information about individual projects is soft' and cannot be credibly transmitted. Moreover, holding fixed firm size, soft information also favors flatter organizations with fewer layers of management. In contrast, large hierarchical firms with multiple layers of management are at a comparative advantage when information can be costlessly hardened' and passed along within the hierarchy. As a concrete application of the theory, the paper discusses the consequences of consolidation in the banking industry. It has been documented that when large banks acquire small banks, there is a pronounced decline in lending to small businesses. To the extent that small-business lending relies heavily on soft information, this is exactly what the theory would lead one to expect.

Suggested Citation

Stein, Jeremy C., Information Production and Capital Allocation: Decentralized vs. Hierarchical Firms (May 2000). NBER Working Paper No. w7705. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=232091

Jeremy C. Stein

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-6455 (Phone)
617-496-7352 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://post.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/stein/stein.html

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
83
Abstract Views
4,002
rank
40,075
PlumX Metrics