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The Division of Labour, Worker Organisation, and Technological Change


  • Borghans, Lex

    () (Maastricht University)

  • ter Weel, Bas

    () (SEO Amsterdam)


The model developed in this paper explains differences in the division of labour across firms as a result of computer technology adoption. We find that changes in the division of labour can result both from reduced production time and from improved communication possibilities. The first shifts the division of labour towards a more generic structure, while the latter enhances specialisation. Although there exists heterogeneity, our estimates for a representative sample of Dutch establishments in the period 1990-1996 suggest that productivity gains have been the main determinant for shifts in the division of labour within most firms. These productivity gains have induced skill upgrading, while in firms gaining mainly from improved communication possibilities specialisation increased and skill requirements have fallen.

Suggested Citation

  • Borghans, Lex & ter Weel, Bas, 2005. "The Division of Labour, Worker Organisation, and Technological Change," IZA Discussion Papers 1709, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1709

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lex Borghans & Bas ter Weel, 2008. "Understanding the Technology of Computer Technology Diffusion: Explaining Computer Adoption Patterns and Implications for the Wage Structure," Journal of Income Distribution, Journal of Income Distribution, vol. 17(3-4), pages 37-70, September.
    2. İ. Akçomak & Lex Borghans & Bas Weel, 2011. "Measuring and Interpreting Trends in the Division of Labour in the Netherlands," De Economist, Springer, vol. 159(4), pages 435-482, December.
    3. Beckmann, Volker & Irawan, Evi & Wesseler, Justus, 2006. "The Effect of Farm Labor Organization on IPM Adoption: Empirical Evidence from Thailand," 2006 Annual Meeting, August 12-18, 2006, Queensland, Australia 25711, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    4. Suzanne Kok & Bas ter Weel, 2014. "Cities, Tasks, And Skills," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(5), pages 856-892, November.
    5. Paul J.J. Welfens, 2006. "Grundlagen rationaler Transportpolitik bei Integration," EIIW Discussion paper disbei144, Universitätsbibliothek Wuppertal, University Library.
    6. Cindy Zoghi & Sabrina Wulff Pabilonia, 2007. "Which workers gain upon adopting a computer?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 40(2), pages 423-444, May.
    7. repec:spr:infosf:v:14:y:2012:i:2:d:10.1007_s10796-010-9276-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Raouf BOUCEKKINE & Patricia, CRIFO & Claudio, MATTALIA, 2007. "Technological Progress, Organizational Change and the Size of the Human Resources Departement," Discussion Papers (ECON - Département des Sciences Economiques) 2007047, Université catholique de Louvain, Département des Sciences Economiques.
    9. R. Antonietti, 2006. "The skill content of technological change. Some conjectures on the role of education and job-training in reducing the timing of new technology adoption," Working Papers 556, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.

    More about this item


    computerisation of the labour market; technological change; division of labour; wage level and structure;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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