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The Division of Labour, Worker Organisation, and Technological Change

  • Borghans, Lex

    ()

    (Maastricht University)

  • ter Weel, Bas

    ()

    (CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis)

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.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp1709.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1709.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Journal, 2006, 116 (509), F45-F72
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1709
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  1. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2003. "Computing Productivity: Firm-Level Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 793-808, November.
  2. Becker, G.S. & Murphy, K.M., 1991. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 92-5, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  3. Bolton, Patrick & Dewatripont, Mathias, 1994. "The Firm as a Communication Network," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 809-39, November.
  4. Borghans,Lex & Weel,Bas,ter, 2002. "Do Older Workers Have More Trouble Using a Computer Than Younger Workers?," ROA Research Memorandum 003, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
  5. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2001. "The Skill Content of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," NBER Working Papers 8337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Leora Friedberg, 2001. "The Impact of Technological Change on Older Workers: Evidence from Data on Computer Use," NBER Working Papers 8297, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Paul Osterman, 2000. "Work reorganization in an era of restructuring: Trends in diffusion and effects on employee welfare," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 53(2), pages 179-196, January.
  8. Bertschek, Irene & Kaiser, Ulrich, 2001. "Productivity effects of organizational change: microeconometric evidence," ZEW Discussion Papers 01-32, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  9. Sandra E. Black & Lisa M. Lynch, 2001. "What's driving the new economy? The benefits of workplace innovation," Staff Reports 118, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  10. Garcia-Penalosa, Cecilia & Aghion, Philippe & Caroli, Eve, 1999. "Inequality and Economic Growth: The Perspective of the New Growth Theories," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/10091, Paris Dauphine University.
  11. Van Reenen, John & Caroli, Eve, 2001. "Skill-Biased Organizational Change? Evidence from a panel of British and French establishments," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/10093, Paris Dauphine University.
  12. P. Aubert & E. Caroli & M. Roger, 2004. "New Technologies, Workplace Organisation and the Age Structure of the Workforce: Firm-Level Evidence," Documents de Travail de la DESE - Working Papers of the DESE g2004-07, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques, DESE.
  13. Borghans, Lex & ter Weel, Bas, 2004. "What happens when agent T gets a computer?: The labor market impact of cost efficient computer adoption," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 137-151, June.
  14. Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Substitution and Division of Labour," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 45(179), pages 235-50, August.
  15. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J, 2000. "Multitask Learning and the Reorganization of Work: From Tayloristic to Holistic Organization," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 353-76, July.
  16. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00590805 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Kremer, Michael, 1993. "The O-Ring Theory of Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 551-75, August.
  18. Sandra E. Black & Lisa M. Lynch, 2001. "How To Compete: The Impact Of Workplace Practices And Information Technology On Productivity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(3), pages 434-445, August.
  19. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2002. "Upstairs, downstairs: Computers and skills on two floors of a large bank," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(3), pages 432-447, April.
  20. Rosen, Sherwin, 1983. "Specialization and Human Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 43-49, January.
  21. Radner, Roy, 1993. "The Organization of Decentralized Information Processing," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(5), pages 1109-46, September.
  22. Casey Ichniowski & Kathryn Shaw & Giovanna Prennushi, 1995. "The Effects of Human Resource Management Practices on Productivity," NBER Working Papers 5333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Paul Osterman, 1994. "How common is workplace transformation and who adopts it?," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(2), pages 173-188, January.
  24. Bresnahan, Timothy F, 1999. "Computerisation and Wage Dispersion: An Analytical Reinterpretation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages F390-415, June.
  25. Weinberg, Bruce A., 2004. "Experience and Technology Adoption," IZA Discussion Papers 1051, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  26. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1996. "With What Skills Are Computers a Complement?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 258-62, May.
  27. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2000. "Beyond Computation: Information Technology, Organizational Transformation and Business Performance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 23-48, Fall.
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