Discussion paper

DP1625 Excess Capacity as an Incentive Device

This paper studies the factors determining plant size and interplant output allocation within the boundaries of a multiplant firm under conditions of demand uncertainty. It shows that asymmetric information between headquarters and individual plants is one factor determining plant size and output allocation: since the existence of excess capacity creates ?high powered? incentives for individual plants, capacity levels in a second-best setting exceed the corresponding benchmark in a first-best world if capacity prices are low. The presence of ?agency costs? in the case of fully-utilized capacity reverses this result for high-capacity prices. Also, in a recession output is not necessarily assigned to the plant with the lowest production costs.


Kerschbamer, R and Y Tournas (1997), ‘DP1625 Excess Capacity as an Incentive Device‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 1625. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp1625