Political institutions influence economic policy, but they are themselves endogenous since they are chosen, in some way, by members of the polity. An important aspect of institutional design is how much society chooses to delegate unchecked power to its leaders. If, once elected, a leader cannot be restrained, society runs the risk of a tyranny of the majority if not the tyranny of a dictator. If a leader faces too many ex post checks and balances, legislative action is too often blocked. As our critical constitutional choice we focus upon the size of the minority needed to block legislation, or conversely the size of the (super)majority needed to govern. We analyze both “optimal” constitutional design and ”positive” aspects of this process. We derive several empirical implications which we then discuss.
We construct a model where the equilibrium organization of firms changes as an economy approaches the world technology frontier. In vertically integrated firms, owners (managers) have to spend time both on production and innovation activities, and this creates managerial overload, and discourages innovation. Outsourcing of some production activities mitigates the managerial overload, but creates a holdup problem, causing some of the rents of the owners to be dissipated to the supplier. Far from the technology frontier, imitation activities are more important, and vertical integration is preferred. Closer to the frontier, the value of innovation increases, encouraging outsourcing.