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How Much Did the Liberty Shipbuilders Forget?

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  • Peter Thompson

    () (Department of Economics, Florida International University, Miami, Florida 33199)

Abstract

This paper produces new estimates of the rate of organizational forgetting in the well-known case study of U.S. wartime ship production. Estimates obtained using data constructed from primary sources at the National Archives yield rates of forgetting that are much smaller than previously reported, and may well be zero. The richness of the data makes it possible to control for variations in the product mix, to explore alternative formulations for the learning curve, and to investigate the relationship between organizational forgetting and labor turnover.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Thompson, 2007. "How Much Did the Liberty Shipbuilders Forget?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(6), pages 908-918, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:53:y:2007:i:6:p:908-918
    as

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1060.0678
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Irwin, Douglas A & Klenow, Peter J, 1994. "Learning-by-Doing Spillovers in the Semiconductor Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1200-1227, December.
    4. Auerswald, Philip & Kauffman, Stuart & Lobo, Jose & Shell, Karl, 2000. "The production recipes approach to modeling technological innovation: An application to learning by doing," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 389-450, March.
    5. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-990, October.
    6. Dennis Epple & Linda Argote & Kenneth Murphy, 1996. "An Empirical Investigation of the Microstructure of Knowledge Acquisition and Transfer Through Learning by Doing," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 44(1), pages 77-86, February.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. John F. Muth, 1986. "Search Theory and the Manufacturing Progress Function," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(8), pages 948-962, August.
    10. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List & Chad Syverson, 2013. "Toward an Understanding of Learning by Doing: Evidence from an Automobile Assembly Plant," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(4), pages 643-681.
    2. Andreas Menzel, 2017. "Knowledge Exchange and Productivity Spill-overs in Bangladeshi Garment Factories," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp607, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    3. William Hanlon, 2017. "Dynamic Comparative Advantage in International Shipbuilding: The Transition from Wood to Steel," 2017 Meeting Papers 140, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Thompson, Peter, 2010. "Learning by Doing," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier.
    5. repec:bla:stratm:v:38:y:2017:i:3:p:588-608 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Hazhir Rahmandad & Nelson Repenning, 2016. "Capability erosion dynamics," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(4), pages 649-672, April.
    7. Scott F. Rockart & Nilanjana Dutt, 2015. "The rate and potential of capability development trajectories," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(1), pages 53-75, January.
    8. Anelí Bongers, 2017. "Learning and Forgetting in the Jet Fighter Aircraft Industry," Working Papers 2017-02, Universidad de Málaga, Department of Economic Theory, Málaga Economic Theory Research Center.
    9. Kamalini Ramdas & Khaled Saleh & Steven Stern & Haiyan Liu, 2016. "Variety and Experience: Learning and Forgetting in the Use of Surgical Devices," Working Papers 0316, University of South Florida, Department of Economics.
    10. repec:eee:joecas:v:15:y:2017:i:c:p:39-47 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Guy David & Tanguy Brachet, 2011. "On the Determinants of Organizational Forgetting," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 100-123, August.
    12. 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.
    13. Steven Levitt & John List & Chad Syverson, 2012. "Toward an Understanding of Learning by Doing: Evidence from an Automobile Plant," Natural Field Experiments 00463, The Field Experiments Website.
    14. Ravi Bapna & Nishtha Langer & Amit Mehra & Ram Gopal & Alok Gupta, 2013. "Human Capital Investments and Employee Performance: An Analysis of IT Services Industry," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(3), pages 641-658, November.
    15. 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.
    16. Hockenberry, Jason M. & Helmchen, Lorens A., 2014. "The nature of surgeon human capital depreciation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 70-80.
    17. Carolyn D. Egelman & Dennis Epple & Linda Argote & Erica R.H. Fuchs, 2013. "Learning by Doing in a Multi-Product Manufacturing Environment: Product Variety, Customizations, and Overlapping Product Generations," NBER Working Papers 19674, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Apurba Shee & Spiro E. Stefanou, 2016. "Bounded learning-by-doing and sources of firm level productivity growth in colombian food manufacturing industry," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 46(2), pages 185-197, December.
    19. Robert S. Huckman & Bradley R. Staats & David M. Upton, 2009. "Team Familiarity, Role Experience, and Performance: Evidence from Indian Software Services," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(1), pages 85-100, January.

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