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Uncertainty and Organization Design

Avner Ben-Ner (), Fanmin Kong () and Stéphanie Lluis ()

Working Papers from Human Resources and Labor Studies, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities Campus)

Abstract: The task environment, characterized by the degree of complexity, variability, and routine of workers’ tasks, creates varying degrees of asymmetric information between workers and their supervisors, as well as poses varying degrees of difficulty for supervisors and workers in making correct decisions. Thus the task environment generates internal uncertainty, some of which is under the control of workers, in contrast with external uncertainty, which arises from the market and is beyond their control. The measures that address problems associated with internal uncertainty (including incentives, delegation of decision-making to workers, monitoring by supervisors and internal labor markets) are elements of organization design. We explore theoretically and empirically the relationship between uncertainty and organization design, expanding on Baker and Jorgensen’s (2003) idea that the risk-incentives relationship depends on the nature and sources of risk and Prendergast’s (2002a) idea that incentive pay is not a direct response to a firm’s task attributes but is part of a broader organization design that includes additional complementary and substitutable elements.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-bec, nep-cbe and nep-lab
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