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Product Differentiation and the Use of Information Technology: New Evidence from the Trucking Industry

  • Atreya Chakraborty

    ()

    (Brandeis University)

  • Mark Kazarosian

    ()

    (Boston College)

Since the mid-1980s many authors have investigated the influence of information technology (IT) on productivity. Until recently there has been no clear evidence that productivity increases as a result of IT spending. This productivity paradox is partly due to the difficulty in correctly identifying outputs, particularly in the service sector such as the trucking industry. Products are often differentiated by quality attributes of the service provided, rather than merely the physical content of the good delivered by motor carriers. A carrier's primary marketing objective, e.g. on-time-performance vs. lowest rate carrier, are precisely what differentiates a trucking firm's service. This paper uses cross-sectional data to show that the use of increasingly sophisticated IT by trucking firms varies depending upon marketing objectives. Our empirical results imply that in order to measure the impact of IT on productivity it is crucial to account for how the firm differentiates its product. We conclude that the productivity paradox can be alleviated if measures of output incorporate firms' marketing objectives.

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Paper provided by Boston College Department of Economics in its series Boston College Working Papers in Economics with number 433.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 22 Nov 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:433
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  1. Zingales, Luigi, 1998. "Survival of the Fittest or the Fattest? Exit and Financing in the Trucking Industry," CEPR Discussion Papers 1778, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Catherine J. Morrison, 2000. "Assessing The Productivity Of Information Technology Equipment In U.S. Manufacturing Industries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(3), pages 471-481, August.
  3. Donald Siegel & Zvi Griliches, 1992. "Purchased Services, Outsourcing, Computers, and Productivity in Manufacturing," NBER Chapters, in: Output Measurement in the Service Sectors, pages 429-460 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Sanjeev Dewan & Chung-ki Min, 1997. "The Substitution of Information Technology for Other Factors of Production: A Firm Level Analysis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 43(12), pages 1660-1675, December.
  5. Thomas N. Hubbard, 1998. "Why Are Process Monitoring Technologies Valuable? The Use of On-Board Information Technology in the Trucking Industry," NBER Working Papers 6482, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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