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Decentralizing Cross-Functional Decisions: Coordination Through Internal Markets, Management Science


A firm faces many problems that are inherently cross-functional. To solve them successfully requires the coordinated actions of many functional representatives acting in a decentralized setting. Functional managers, however, respond to their own individual incentives and may consequently fail to maximize the overall profits of the firm. This issue is examined in a setting in which the output of early actions limits the range of later actions, and an incentive scheme is proposed that allows the system to be successfully decentralized. The mechanism is based on linear transfer prices for the intermediate output that are implemented through an internal market; a market maker buys the output from one function and sells it to another. She is not obliged to sell at the same price at which she bought and may set prices solely to provide incentives. The flexibility of the scheme is illustrated by applying it to several models in the operations management literature.




Panagiotis Kouvelis, Martin Lariviere

Date Published



Kouvelis, Panagiotis, and Martin Lariviere. 2000. Decentralizing Cross-Functional Decisions: Coordination Through Internal Markets. Management Science.(8): 1049-1058.


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