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Learning from Experience and Learning from Others: An Exploration of Learning and Spillovers in Wartime Shipbuilding

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  • Rebecca Achee Thornton
  • Peter Thompson

Abstract

A new data set facilitates study of learning spillovers in World War II shipbuilding. Our results contain two principal but contrasting themes. First, learning spillovers were a significant source of productivity growth, and may have contributed more than conventional learning effects. Second, the size of the learning externalities across yards, as measured by Spence's theta, were small. These findings, which are not mutually inconsistent, suggest an optimistic view of learning spillovers: they are a significant source of productivity growth, but the market failures induced by learning externalities may be modest.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.91.5.1350
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 91 (2001)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 1350-1368

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:91:y:2001:i:5:p:1350-1368

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.91.5.1350
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  1. James D. Adams & Adam B. Jaffe, 1996. "Bounding the Effects of R&D: An Investigation Using Matched Establishment-Firm Data," NBER Working Papers 5544, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Linda Argote & Sara L. Beckman & Dennis Epple, 1990. "The Persistence and Transfer of Learning in Industrial Settings," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(2), pages 140-154, February.
  3. Coe, D.T. & Helpman, E., 1993. "International R&D Spillovers," Papers 5-93, Tel Aviv.
  4. Coe, David T & Helpman, Elhanan & Hoffmaister, Alexander W, 1997. "North-South R&D Spillovers," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 134-49, January.
  5. Jeffrey I. Bernstein & M. Ishaq Nadiri, 1986. "Research and Development and Intraindustry Spillovers: An Empirical Application of Dynamic Duality," NBER Working Papers 2002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bernstein, Jeffrey I, 1989. "The Structure of Canadian Inter-industry R&D Spillovers, and the Rates of Return to R&D," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(3), pages 315-28, March.
  7. C. Lanier Benkard, 2000. "Learning and Forgetting: The Dynamics of Aircraft Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1034-1054, September.
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