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The "IT Productivity Paradox" Revisited: International Comparisons of Information Technology, Work Organisation and Productivity in Service Industries


  • Geoff Mason
  • Karin Wagner
  • David Finegold
  • Brent Keltner


Although many authors now regard the ‘IT productivity paradox’ as an issue which has been resolved at firm level (at least in the US), some puzzles still remain at industry and national economy level. In this article we have explored the relationship between IT investments and relative labour productivity performance through comparisons of matched samples of banking and hotel establishments in the US, Germany and Britain. In both industries a lack of correspondence between country productivity ranking and the incidence of different kinds of IT usage was attributable to inter-country differences in (1) the timing of IT investments and of adaptation of work organisation to take full advantage of the productivity-enhancing potential of IT; (2) the mix of product strategies deployed by service establishments; and (3) the supply of complementary assets required to secure high levels of pay-off to IT investments. Obwohl gegenwärtig viele Autoren das "Produktivitätsparadox der Informationstechnik" als ein Thema ansehen, das, zumindest in den USA, auf der Firmenebene gelöst wurde, bleiben noch einige Unklarheiten auf den Ebenen von Branchen- und Volkswirtschaft bestehen. Der vorliegende Beitrag untersucht die Beziehung zwischen Investitionen in Informationstechnik und relativer Arbeitsproduktivität durch Vergleiche von entsprechenden Stichproben im Banken- und Hotelgewerbe in den USA, Deutschland und England. In beiden Industrien kann die mangelnde Übereinstimmung zwischen Länderproduktivitätsranking und unterschiedlichem Einsatzgrad von Informationstechnik auf Unterschiede zwischen den Ländern in den folgenden drei Bereichen zurückgeführt werden: (1) In der zeitlichen Koordinierung von Investitionen im informationstechnischen Bereich und der Anpassung der Arbeitsorganisation, um das Potential der Informationstechnik zur Erhöhung der Produktivität voll auszuschöpfen; (2) der von den Dienstleistungseinrichtungen gewählte Einsatz der Produktmixstrategien; und (3) das erforderliche Angebot von komplementären Anlagen, um eine hohe Rendite von IT Investitionen zu gewährleisten.

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  • Geoff Mason & Karin Wagner & David Finegold & Brent Keltner, 2000. "The "IT Productivity Paradox" Revisited: International Comparisons of Information Technology, Work Organisation and Productivity in Service Industries," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 69(4), pages 618-629.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwvjh:69-40-10

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. O'Mahony, Mary & Oulton, Nicholas & Vass, Jennet, 1998. "Market Services: Productivity Benchmarks for the UK," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 60(4), pages 529-551, November.
    2. Paul Schreyer, 2000. "The Contribution of Information and Communication Technology to Output Growth: A Study of the G7 Countries," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2000/2, OECD Publishing.
    3. Frank R. Lichtenberg, 1993. "The Output Contributions of Computer Equipment and Personnel: A Firm- Level Analysis," NBER Working Papers 4540, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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