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The Return to Knowledge Hierarchies

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  • Garicano, Luis
  • Hubbard, Thomas

Abstract

Hierarchies allow individuals to leverage their knowledge through others' time. This mechanism increases productivity and amplifies the impact of skill heterogeneity on earnings inequality. To quantify this effect, we analyze the earnings and organization of U.S. lawyers and use the equilibrium model of knowledge hierarchies in Garicano and Rossi-Hansberg (2006) to assess how much lawyers' productivity and the distribution of earnings across lawyers reflects lawyers' ability to organize problem-solving hierarchically. We analyze earnings, organizational, and assignment patterns and show that they are generally consistent with the main predictions of the model. We then use these data to estimate the model. Our estimates imply that hierarchical production leads to at least a 30% increase in production in this industry, relative to a situation where lawyers within the same office do not

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6077.

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Date of creation: Feb 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6077

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Keywords: hedonics; hierarchy; matching; scale of operations effects; sorting; Structural Estimation;

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Cited by:
  1. Enghin Atalay & Ali Hortacsu & Chad Syverson, 2012. "Why Do Firms Own Production Chains?," NBER Working Papers 18020, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Frank Limehouse & Robert McCormick, 2011. "Impacts of Central Business District Location: A Hedonic Analysis of Legal Service Establishments," Working Papers 11-21, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  3. Maria Guadalupe & Julie Wulf, 2008. "The Flattening Firm and Product Market Competition: The Effect of Trade Liberalization," NBER Working Papers 14491, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Luis Garicano & Thomas Hubbard, 2009. "Earnings Inequality and Coordination Costs: Evidence From U.S. Law Firms," NBER Working Papers 14741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Carlo Altomonte & Armando Rungi, 2013. "Business Groups as Hierarchies of Firms: Determinants of Vertical Integration and Performance," Working Papers 2013.33, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  6. Ann P. Bartel & Ciaran S. Phibbs & Nancy Beaulieu & Patricia Stone, 2011. "Human Capital and Organizational Performance: Evidence from the Healthcare Sector," NBER Working Papers 17474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Steven N. Kaplan & Joshua Rauh, 2010. "Wall Street and Main Street: What Contributes to the Rise in the Highest Incomes?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(3), pages 1004-1050, March.

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