IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Atreya Chakraborty & Mark Kazarosian, 1999. "Product Differentiation and the Use of Information Technology: New Evidence from the Trucking Industry," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 433, Boston College Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:433

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: main text
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Luigi Zingales, 1998. "Survival of the Fittest or the Fattest? Exit and Financing in the Trucking Industry," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(3), pages 905-938, June.
    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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Beland, Louis-Philippe & Murphy, Richard, 2016. "Ill Communication: Technology, distraction & student performance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 61-76.
    2. Edward N. Wolff, 2002. "Productivity, computerization, and skill change," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q3, pages 63-87.
    3. Gillen, David & Haynes, Matt, 2002. "Public and Private Benefits in Intelligent Transportation Systems/Commercial Vehicle Operations: Electronic Clearance and Supply Chain Management," Institute of Transportation Studies, Research Reports, Working Papers, Proceedings qt8qt8w8kp, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Berkeley.
    4. Monaco, Kristen A & Belman, Dale L, 2004. "4. An Econometric Analysis Of The Impact Of Technology On The Work Lives Of Truck Drivers," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 57-78, January.
    5. George P. Baker & Thomas N. Hubbard, 2000. "Contractibility and Asset Ownership: On-Board Computers and Governance in U.S. Trucking," NBER Working Papers 7634, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    Information Technology; Product Differentiation; Marketing Objectives; Trucking Industry; Productivity;

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:433. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christopher F Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.