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Why do management practices differ across firms and countries?

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  • Nick Bloom
  • John Van Reenen

Abstract

Economists have long puzzled over the astounding differences in productivity between firms and countries. For example, looking at disaggregated data on U.S. manufacturing industries, Syverson (2004a) found that plants at the 90th percentile produced four times as much as the plant in the 10th percentile on a per-employee basis. Only half of this difference in labor productivity could be accounted for by differential inputs, such as capital intensity. Syverson looked at industries defined at the four-digit level in the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system (now the North American Industry Classification System or NAICS) like 'Bakeries and Tortilla Manufacturing' or 'Plastics Product Manufacturing.' Foster, Haltiwanger, and Syverson (2008) show large differences in total factor productivity even within very homogeneous goods industries such as boxes and block ice. Some of these productivity differences across firms and plants are temporary, but in large part they persist over time. At the country level, Hall and Jones (1999) and Jones and Romer (2009) show how the stark differences in productivity across countries account for a substantial fraction of the differences in average per capita income. Both at the plant level and at the national level, differences in productivity are typically calculated as a residual-that is, productivity is inferred as the gap between output and inputs that cannot be accounted for by conventionally measured inputs.

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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 47491.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:47491

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  1. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2002. "Information Technology, Workplace Organization, And The Demand For Skilled Labor: Firm-Level Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 339-376, February.
  2. Nicholas Bloom & Raffaella Sadun & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Americans Do I.T. Better: US Multinationals and the Productivity Miracle," NBER Working Papers 13085, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2009. "Misallocation and Manufacturing TFP in China and India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1403-1448, November.
  4. Chad Syverson, 2004. "Market Structure and Productivity: A Concrete Example," NBER Working Papers 10501, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Charles I. Jones & Paul M. Romer, 2010. "The New Kaldor Facts: Ideas, Institutions, Population, and Human Capital," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 224-45, January.
  6. Nicholas Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1351-1408, November.
  7. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Chad Syverson, 2005. "Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?," Working Papers 05-11, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  8. Nicholas Bloom & Christos Genakos & Ralf Martin & Raffaella Sadun, 2008. "Modern Management: Good for the Environment of Just Hot Air?," Discussion Papers 08-009, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  9. Moses Abramovitz, 1956. "Resource and Output Trends in the United States Since 1870," NBER Chapters, in: Resource and Output Trends in the United States Since 1870, pages 1-23 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Chad Syverson, 2004. "Product Substitutability and Productivity Dispersion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 534-550, May.
  11. Andrew Atkeson & Patrick J. Kehoe, 2005. "Modeling and measuring organization capital," Staff Report 291, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. Bertrand, Marianne & Schoar, Antoinette, 2003. "Managing With Style: The Effect of Managers on Firm Policies," Working papers 4280-02, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  13. Moses Abramovitz, 1956. "Resource and Output Trends in the United States Since 1870," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abra56-1, octubre-d.
  14. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
  15. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Zvi Griliches, 1996. "The Discovery of the Residual: A Historical Note," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 1324-1330, September.
  17. Ariel T. Burstein & Alexander Monge-Naranjo, 2009. "Foreign Know-How, Firm Control, and the Income of Developing Countries-super-," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(1), pages 149-195, February.
  18. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-50, September.
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