Strategy, Organization, and Incentives: Global Corporate Banking at Citibank

Strategy, Organization, and Incentives: Global Corporate Banking at Citibank

By David P. Baron, David Besanko
1998Working Paper No. 1488

This paper addresses the interplay of strategy, organization, and incentives in a global company. The basic framework takes one step further Chandler's perspective that structure follows strategy by incorporating incentives chosen in response to both strategy and organization. The analysis of these three components of corporate policy is guided by a model of organization developed in earlier papers (1996, 1997). The perspective is that strategy is based on matching opportunities and capabilities. Capabilities reside in an organization's shared know-how, and organization structure serves to mobilize a firm's capabilities in pursuit of opportunities. How organization structure mobilizes capabilities depends on the complementarities among its activities and the pattern of spillovers that underlie its capabilities. When the activities include both complements and substitutes and when the pattern of spillovers is complex, a multi-dimensional organization is required to manage the interrelationships. In multi-dimensional organizations the incentive system is crucial in animating the organization by directing effort to those activities that generate favorable spillovers and exploit complementaries. This framework is used to evaluate the strategy, organization, and incentive system of Citibank, which has an explicit and evolving global business strategy that includes the stratetgic choice of a multi-dimensional organization involving product, geography, and customer dimensions and an incentive system intended to induce favorable spillovers and exploit complementarities. The focus is on Citibank's corporate banking business.