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Journal Article

Why Firms Want to Organize Efficiently and What Keeps Them from Doing so: Inappropriate Governance, Performance, and Adaptation in a Deregulated Industry

Jack A. Nickerson and Brian S. Silverman
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 48, No. 3 (Sep., 2003), pp. 433-465
DOI: 10.2307/3556680
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3556680
Page Count: 33
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Why Firms Want to Organize Efficiently and What Keeps Them from Doing so: Inappropriate Governance, Performance, and Adaptation in a Deregulated Industry
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Abstract

This paper integrates content-based predictions of transaction cost economics with process-based predictions of organizational change to understand adaptation to deregulation in the for-hire trucking industry. We predict and find that firms whose governance of a core transaction is poor (according to transaction cost reasoning) will realize lower profits than their better-aligned counterparts and that these firms will attempt to adapt so as to better align their transactions. Results show that several organizational features affect the rate of adaptation: (1) firms with large investments in specialized assets adapt less readily than firms that rely on generic assets, (2) firms with unions adapt less readily than firms without unions, (3) firms that must replace employee drivers with owner-operators adapt less readily than firms that must replace owner-operators with employee drivers, and (4) entrants adapt more quickly than incumbent carriers. There is evidence of institutional isomorphism in that although carriers move systematically to reduce misalignment, they do so less assiduously when this will make their governance of drivers look less like that of nearby, similar carriers. Finally, our results indicate that firms that ultimately exited adapted more quickly than firms that survived.

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