IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Are Some Firms Better at IT? Differing Relationships between Productivity and IT Spending

Listed author(s):
  • Kevin M Stolarick
Registered author(s):

    Although recent studies have found a positive relationship between spending on information technology and firm productivity, the magnitude of this relationship has not been as dramatic as one would expect given the anecdotal evidence. Data collected by the Bureau of the Census is analyzed to investigate the relationship between plant-level productivity and spending on IT. This relationship is investigated by separating the manufacturing plants in the sample along two dimensions, total factor productivity and IT spending. Analysis along these dimensions reveals that there are significant differences between the highest and lowest productivity plants. The highest productivity plants tend to spend less on IT while the lowest productivity plants tend to spend more on IT. Although there is support for the idea that lower productivity plants are spending more on IT to compensate for their productivity shortcomings, the results indicate that this is not the only difference. The robustness of this finding is strengthened by investigating changes in productivity and IT spending over time. High productivity plants with the lowest amounts of IT spending tend to remain high productivity plants with low IT spending while low productivity plants with high IT spending tend to remain low productivity plants with high IT spending. The results show that management skill, as measured by the overall productivity level of a firm, is an additional factor that must be taken into consideration when investigating the IT "productivity paradox."

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 99-13.

    in new window

    Date of creation: Oct 1999
    Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:99-13
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    4600 Silver Hill Road, Washington, DC 20233

    Phone: (301) 763-6460
    Fax: (301) 763-5935
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Productivity, R&D, and the Data Constraint," NBER Chapters,in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 347-374 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Martin Neil Baily & Robert J. Gordon, 1988. "The Productivity Slowdown, Measurement Issues, and the Explosion of Computer Power," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(2), pages 347-432.
    3. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:99-13. 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: (Erica Coates)

    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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.