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How Much Did The Liberty Shipbuilders Forget?

  • Peter Thompson

    ()

This paper produces new estimates of the rate of organizational forgetting in the well-known case study of US wartime ship production. I show that estimation is easily colored by problems of unobserved product heterogeneity and sensitivity to specification of the learning curve. Using data recently constructed from primary sources at the National Archives, I produce new estimates of organizational forgetting at the rate of no more than 4 percent, and possibly less than zero percent, per month. These are much smaller rates than previously reported. However, the paper also stresses the fact that our ability to obtain reliable estimates of rates of organizational forgetting is extremely limited.

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File URL: http://casgroup.fiu.edu/pages/docs/2248/1280267781_03-01.pdf
File Function: Revised version, 2006
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Florida International University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0301.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fiu:wpaper:0301
Contact details of provider: Postal: Miami, FL 33199
Phone: (305) 348-2316
Fax: (305) 348-1524
Web page: http://casgroup.fiu.edu/Economics/
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  1. 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.
  2. Philip Auerswald & Stuart Kauffman & Jose Lobo & Karl Shell, 1998. "The Production Recipes Approach to Modeling Technological Innovation: An Application to Learning By Doing," Working Papers 98-11-100, Santa Fe Institute.
  3. John F. Muth, 1986. "Search Theory and the Manufacturing Progress Function," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(8), pages 948-962, August.
  4. Peter Thompson, 1997. "How Much Did the Liberty Shipbuilders Learn? New Evidence for an Old Case Study," Development and Comp Systems 9712001, EconWPA.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Kazuhiro Mishina, 1999. "Learning by New Experiences: Revisiting the Flying Fortress Learning Curve," NBER Chapters, in: Learning by Doing in Markets, Firms, and Countries, pages 145-184 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
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