Mustafa Dogan, Alexandre Jacquillat, Pinar Yildirim

This paper studies how automation impacts the structure of decision-making in organizations. We develop a theoretical model of a firm, where a principal makes a decision about how much to prioritize the new product development division when the division is led by a manager who holds private information specific to this division and has misaligned preferences with the principal. The principal chooses whether to decentralize this decision by delegating it to the manager, resulting in more informed but unbiased decision. In this setting, we investigate how automation which reduces operational variability may alter this choice of organizational structure. The findings from our analysis show that firms deploy automation resources differently depending on their organizational structure: centralized firms choose to automate divisions that face more uncertainty, while decentralized firms do the opposite. Moreover, increasing access to automation results in higher centralization of decision-making in firms. In the extensions, we show that the strategic use of automation reduces the informativeness of intrafirm communication, and also, that automation can be a strategic substitute to monetary contracts.