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How Do Mobile Information Technology Networks Affect Firm Strategy and Performance? Firm-Level Evidence from Taxicab Fleets

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  • Evan Rawley

    ()
    (University of California, Berkeley)

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    Abstract

    This paper examines how the adoption of mobile information technology networks impact firm strategy and performance in the U.S. taxicab industry. Using a rich, novel firm-level data set from the Economic Census, I test transaction cost economics’ prediction that adoption of mobile IT networks leads to shifts in the boundary of the firm toward increased fleet ownership of vehicles. I then exploit the homogeneity of the industry’s production function and exogenous variation in local market conditions to precisely measure the impact of adoption of mobile IT networks on productivity. I find strong evidence that firms respond to adoption of mobile IT networks by changing their organizational structure, shifting toward owning a greater fraction of vehicles in their fleets (as opposed to contracting with independent driver-owners for vehicles). I then use a precise and economically meaningful measure of firm performance to show that adoption of mobile IT networks causes firms to become more productive. The results suggest that adoption of mobile IT networks increases asset utilization by improving within-firm coordination but that firms must simultaneously shift toward a more highly vertically integrated structure to fully capture the benefits of mobile IT networks.

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    File URL: http://www.netinst.org/Rawley.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by NET Institute in its series Working Papers with number 06-28.

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    Length: 33 pages
    Date of creation: Oct 2006
    Date of revision: Oct 2006
    Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:0628

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    1. Brynjolfsson, Erik & Hitt, Lorin M., 2004. "Computing Productivity: Firm-Level Evidence," Working papers 4210-01, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    2. Susan Athey & Scott Stern, 1998. "An Empirical Framework for Testing Theories About Complimentarity in Organizational Design," NBER Working Papers 6600, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Klette, Tor Jakob & Griliches, Zvi, 1996. "The Inconsistency of Common Scale Estimators When Output Prices Are Unobserved and Endogenous," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(4), pages 343-61, July-Aug..
    4. 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.
    5. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin Hitt, 1996. "Paradox Lost? Firm-Level Evidence on the Returns to Information Systems Spending," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 42(4), pages 541-558, April.
    6. Haijime Katayama & Shihua Lu & James Tybout, 2003. "Why Plant-Level Productivity Studies are Often Misleading, and an Alternative Approach to Interference," NBER Working Papers 9617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2000. "Beyond Computation: Information Technology, Organizational Transformation and Business Performance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 23-48, Fall.
    8. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
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