Delegation to Workers across Countries and Industries: Social Capital and Coordination Needs Matter

Discussion Papers



October 2016


The degree of delegating authority to non-managerial and non-supervisory workers substantially varies across countries and industries. By examining worker-level data from 14 countries, I empirically explain this variation by region-specific social capital that proxies workers' degree of self-centeredness and the industry-specific need for coordination. The empirical results of this study confirm the theoretical predictions by Alonso et al. (2008) for the first time: the negative association between coordination needs and decentralization is mitigated in regions with lower self-centeredness of workers. In particular, when self-centeredness of workers (respectively, need for coordination) is very low, the degree of delegation is always high regardless of the level of the need for coordination (self-centeredness of workers). Positive associations between delegation and its benefits, including job satisfaction, wages (proxy for higher productivity), and skill upgrading of workers, are also found. These results imply that people's degree of self-centeredness affects a country's economic development patterns by changing the degree of decentralization and its benefits.

Keywords: Coordination, Decentralization, Delegation, PIAAC, Social Capital, Trust
JEL classification: L22, L23, Z13

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