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Milton Harris; Artur Raviv (2002)
Journal: Management Science
Types: Article
Subjects: organization design, hierarchies, decentralization, U-form, M-form, internal organization
This paper attempts to explain organization structure based on optimal coordination of interactions among activities. The main idea is that each manager is capable of detecting and coordinating interactions only within his limited area of expertise. Only the CEO can coordinate company wide interactions. The optimal design of the organization trades off the costs and benefits of various configurations of managers. Our results consist of classifying the characteristics of activities and managerial costs that lead to the matrix organization, the functional hierarchy, the divisional hierarchy, or a fiat hierarchy. We also investigate the effect of changing the costs of various managers on the nature of the optimal organization, including the extent of centralization.

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