Resource Allocation and Firm Scope

48 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2006

See all articles by Guido Friebel

Guido Friebel

Goethe University Frankfurt; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Michael Raith

University of Rochester - Simon Business School

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 2007


We develop a theory of firm scope based on the benefits and costs of resource allocation within firms. Integrating two firms into one makes it possible to allocate by authority scarce resources that are costly to trade. But to do so efficiently, top management must rely on information that is communicated by self-interested division managers. Two countervailing effects influence the design of optimal incentive contracts: first, intra-firm competition for scarce resources strengthens the incentives of division managers to expend effort on creating profitable projects. Second, a manager who is paid for his own division's performance has an incentive to overstate the quality of his project, which can be corrected only by paying for firm performance as well. We show that the second effect dominates, leading to overall higher costs of providing incentives in an integrated firm, relative to stand-alone firms. Integration thus creates new agency costs that are directly related to its benefits. We derive predictions about when two firms are likely to integrate, and about the optimal structure and incentives contracts in the integrated firm. In particular, we show why it is optimal to separate the tasks of allocating resources and running a division.

Keywords: Theory of the firm, coordination, authority, incentives, strategic information transmission, hierarchy

JEL Classification: D23, D82, L22, M52

Suggested Citation

Friebel, Guido and Raith, Michael, Resource Allocation and Firm Scope (August 2007). Simon School Working Paper No. FR 06-16, Available at SSRN: or

Guido Friebel (Contact Author)

Goethe University Frankfurt ( email )

Grüneburgplatz 1
Frankfurt am Main, 60323

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Michael Raith

University of Rochester - Simon Business School ( email )

Rochester, NY 14627
United States
585-275-8380 (Phone)
585-273-1140 (Fax)


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