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How Much Did The Liberty Shipbuilders Forget?

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  • Peter Thompson

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Abstract

This paper produces new estimates of the rate of organizational forgetting in the well-known case study of US wartime ship production. I show that estimation is easily colored by problems of unobserved product heterogeneity and sensitivity to specification of the learning curve. Using data recently constructed from primary sources at the National Archives, I produce new estimates of organizational forgetting at the rate of no more than 4 percent, and possibly less than zero percent, per month. These are much smaller rates than previously reported. However, the paper also stresses the fact that our ability to obtain reliable estimates of rates of organizational forgetting is extremely limited.

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File URL: http://casgroup.fiu.edu/pages/docs/2248/1280267781_03-01.pdf
File Function: Revised version, 2006
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Florida International University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0301.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fiu:wpaper:0301

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Postal: Miami, FL 33199
Phone: (305) 348-2316
Fax: (305) 348-1524
Web page: http://casgroup.fiu.edu/Economics/
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Keywords: learning by doing; organizational forgetting; technological change;

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References

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  1. John F. Muth, 1986. "Search Theory and the Manufacturing Progress Function," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(8), pages 948-962, August.
  2. Rebecca Achee Thornton & Peter Thompson, 2001. "Learning from Experience and Learning from Others: An Exploration of Learning and Spillovers in Wartime Shipbuilding," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1350-1368, December.
  3. Eric D. Darr & Linda Argote & Dennis Epple, 1995. "The Acquisition, Transfer, and Depreciation of Knowledge in Service Organizations: Productivity in Franchises," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 41(11), pages 1750-1762, November.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Peter Thompson, 2001. "How Much Did the Liberty Shipbuilders Learn? New Evidence for an Old Case Study," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(1), pages 103-137, February.
  7. Philip Auerswald & Stuart Kauffman & Jose Lobo & Karl Shell, 1998. "The Production Recipes Approach to Modeling Technological Innovation: An Application to Learning By Doing," Working Papers 98-11-100, Santa Fe Institute.
  8. Kazuhiro Mishina, 1999. "Learning by New Experiences: Revisiting the Flying Fortress Learning Curve," NBER Chapters, in: Learning by Doing in Markets, Firms, and Countries, pages 145-184 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Learning and Liberty Ships, P. Thompson
    by afinetheorem in A Fine Theorem on 2012-10-12 08:17:53
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Cited by:
  1. Ryan Kellogg, 2009. "Learning by Drilling: Inter-Firm Learning and Relationship Persistence in the Texas Oilpatch," NBER Working Papers 15060, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Yaroslav Kryukov & Ulrich Doraszelski & David Besanko, . "The economics of predation: What drives pricing when there is learning-by-doing?," GSIA Working Papers 2011-E30, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  3. Brachet, Tanguy & David, Guy, 2009. "On the Determinants of Organizational Forgetting," MPRA Paper 21464, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. David Besanko & Ulrich Doraszelski & Yaroslav Kryukov & Mark Satterthwaite, 2008. "Learning-by-Doing, Organizational Forgetting, and Industry Dynamics," GSIA Working Papers 2009-E22, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  5. Peter Thompson, 2008. "Learning by Doing," Working Papers 0806, Florida International University, Department of Economics.
  6. Blazek, David & Sickles, Robin C., 2010. "The impact of knowledge accumulation and geographical spillovers on productivity and efficiency: The case of U. S. shipbuilding during WWII," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 1484-1497, November.
  7. Sáenz-Royo, Carlos & Salas-Fumás, Vicente, 2013. "Learning to learn and productivity growth: Evidence from a new car-assembly plant," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 336-344.
  8. David Besanko & Ulrich Doraszelski & Yaroslav Kryukov & Mark Satterthwaite, 2007. "Learning-by-Doing, Organizational Forgetting, and Industry Dynamics," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000903, UCLA Department of Economics.
  9. Mariel Lavieri & Martin Puterman, 2009. "Optimizing nursing human resource planning in British Columbia," Health Care Management Science, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 119-128, June.
  10. Robert S. Huckman & Bradley R. Staats, 2008. "Variation in Experience and Team Familiarity: Addressing the Knowledge Acquisition-Application Problem," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-035, Harvard Business School.

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