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Inter-departmental cost allocation and investment incentives

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This paper endeavors to demonstrate that fixed cost allocation can align investment incentives in a multi-period and multi-division setting. In a decentralized firm, a divisional manager can make an investment that benefits both his own and the operations of a downstream division. The relative budgeted activity cost allocation method assigns fixed cost charges according to the ratio of a division's budgeted activity in proportion to that of the firm, and thereby resolves the hold-up problem created by the decentralized setting. Internal accounting rules can be designed to give managers strong incentives to internalize the firm's objective regarding efficient investment levels. A system with both fixed and variable charges for internal transfer of goods can alleviate the tension between ex ante investment efficiency and ex post production efficiency. This paper examines how much the fixed charges should be in order to achieve the optimal level of investment.

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