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The Guy at the Controls: Labor Quality and Power Plant Efficiency

In: International Differences in the Business Practices and Productivity of Firms

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  • James B. Bushnell
  • Catherine Wolfram

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of individual human operators on the fuel efficiency of power plants. Although electricity generation is a fuel and capital intensive enterprise, anecdotal evidence, interviews, and empirical analysis support the hypothesis that labor, particularly power plant operators, can have a non-trivial impact on the operating efficiency of the plant. We present evidence to demonstrate these effects and survey the policies and practices of electricity producing firms that either reduce or exacerbate fuel efficiency differences across individual plant operators.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Richard Freeman & Kathryn Shaw, 2009. "International Differences in the Business Practices and Productivity of Firms," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number free07-1, July.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 0443.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:0443

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    1. Barton H. Hamilton & Jack A. Nickerson & Hideo Owan, 2003. "Team Incentives and Worker Heterogeneity: An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Teams on Productivity and Participation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(3), pages 465-497, June.
    2. Alexandre Mas & Enrico Moretti, 2009. "Peers at Work," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 112-45, March.
    3. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2000. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," NBER Working Papers 7819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Christopher R. Knittel, 2002. "Alternative Regulatory Methods And Firm Efficiency: Stochastic Frontier Evidence From The U.S. Electricity Industry," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 530-540, August.
    5. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2005. "Social Preferences and the Response to Incentives: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 917-962, August.
    6. Z, Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1997. "Production Functions : The Search for Identification," Working Papers 97-30, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
    7. Newbery, D.M. & Pollitt, M.G., 1996. "The Restructuring and Privatisation of the CEGB: Was It Worth It?," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 9607, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    8. Paul L. Joskow, 1997. "Restructuring, Competition and Regulatory Reform in the U.S. Electricity Sector," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 119-138, Summer.
    9. Christensen, Laurits R & Greene, William H, 1976. "Economies of Scale in U.S. Electric Power Generation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages 655-76, August.
    10. G. Steven Olley & Ariel Pakes, 1992. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," NBER Working Papers 3977, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341.
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    Cited by:
    1. Chad Syverson, 2011. "What Determines Productivity?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(2), pages 326-65, June.

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