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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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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. 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.
  2. Irene Bertschek & Ulrich Kaiser, 2004. "Productivity Effects of Organizational Change: Microeconometric Evidence," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(3), pages 394-404, March.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Borghans, Lex & ter Weel, Bas, 2003. "What Happens When Agent T Gets a Computer? The Labor Market Impact of Cost Efficient Computer Adoption," IZA Discussion Papers 792, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Eve Caroli & John Van Reenen, 2001. "Skill-Biased Organizational Change? Evidence From A Panel Of British And French Establishments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1449-1492, November.
  7. Sandra E Black & Lisa M Lynch, 2002. "What's Driving the New Economy? The Benefits of Workplace Innovation," Working Papers 02-03, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  8. Mathias Dewatripont & Patrick Bolton, 1994. "The firm as a communication network," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9595, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  9. David Autor & Frank Levy & Richard Murnane, 2003. "The skill content of recent technological change: an empirical exploration," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  10. 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.
  11. Aghion, Philippe & Caroli, Eve & García-Peñalosa, Cecilia, 1999. "Inequality and Economic Growth: The Perspective of the New Growth Theories," Scholarly Articles 12502063, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  12. S. Black & L. Lynch, 1997. "How to compete: the impact of workplace practices and information technology on productivity," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20298, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  13. 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).
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Weinberg, Bruce A., 2004. "Experience and Technology Adoption," IZA Discussion Papers 1051, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. 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.
  18. Bresnahan, Timothy F, 1999. "Computerisation and Wage Dispersion: An Analytical Reinterpretation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages F390-415, June.
  19. Radner, Roy, 1993. "The Organization of Decentralized Information Processing," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(5), pages 1109-46, September.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Substitution and Division of Labour," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 45(179), pages 235-50, August.
  23. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J., 1999. "Multi-Task Learning and the Reorganization of Work. From Tayloristic to Holistic Organization," IZA Discussion Papers 39, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  24. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00590805 is not listed on IDEAS
  25. Kremer, Michael, 1993. "The O-Ring Theory of Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 551-75, August.
  26. Rosen, Sherwin, 1983. "Specialization and Human Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 43-49, January.
  27. 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.
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