The Effects of Relative Size, Profitability, and Growth on Corporate Capital Allocations Academic Article uri icon


  • Resource allocation in firms is often done in relative terms. Allocations to each project or, in the case of multibusiness firms, business segments are not made independently but through comparisons among the options. In that context, it becomes particularly important to identify the organizational factors that might influence those processes, as well as the mechanisms that create that influence. In this article, we investigate one of those potential factorsthe size of a business segment relative to the rest of the organizationand two possible accounts. One is a naive tendency to spread out allocations evenly over the firms segments that would cause managers to relatively ignore differences in size and favor smaller segments over larger ones, holding other variables constant. The second is a tendency to direct larger allocation to the segments with the most political power and clout within the organization, which would normally favor larger segments, as those generally possess more influence. We investigate these competing hypotheses in a cross-section of firms to conclude that both mechanisms are partially at play. We find that both the smallest and the largest of segments are favored in the capital allocation process. Moreover, we find that the segments growth and profitability as well as corporate management ownership of the company moderate those effects.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 1.85

author list (cited authors)

  • Bardolet, D., Brown, A., & Lovallo, D.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Bardolet, David||Brown, Alex||Lovallo, Dan

publication date

  • January 2017