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Toward an Understanding of Learning by Doing: Evidence from an Automobile Assembly Plant

  • Steven D. Levitt
  • John A. List
  • Chad Syverson

Productivity improvements within establishments (e.g., factories, mines, or retail stores) are an important source of aggregate productivity growth. Past research has documented that learning by doing-productivity improvements that occur in concert with production increases-is one source of such improvements. Yet little is known about the specific mechanisms through which such learning occurs. We address this question using extremely detailed data from an assembly plant of a major auto producer. Beyond showing that there is rapid learning by doing at the plant, we are able to pinpoint the processes by which these improvements have occurred.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w18017.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18017.

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Date of creation: Apr 2012
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Publication status: published as Steven D. Levitt & John A. List & Chad Syverson, 2013. "Toward an Understanding of Learning by Doing: Evidence from an Automobile Assembly Plant," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(4), pages 643 - 681.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18017
Note: IO PR
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  1. Peter Thompson, 2007. "How Much Did the Liberty Shipbuilders Forget?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(6), pages 908-918, June.
  2. Nicholas Bloom & Benn Eifert & Aprajit Mahajan & David McKenzie & John Roberts, 2011. "Does Management Matter? Evidence from India," CEP Discussion Papers dp1042, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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  8. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & C.J. Krizan, 1998. "Aggregate Productivity Growth: Lessons from Microeconomic Evidence," NBER Working Papers 6803, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Peter Thompson, 2001. "How Much Did the Liberty Shipbuilders Learn? New Evidence for an Old Case Study," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(1), pages 103-137, February.
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  11. Barton H. Hamilton & Jack A. Nickerson & Hideo Owan, 2003. "Team Incentives and Worker Heterogeneity: An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Teams on Productivity and Participation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(3), pages 465-497, June.
  12. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  13. Edward P. Lazear & Kathryn L. Shaw, 2007. "Personnel Economics: The Economist's View of Human Resources," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 91-114, Fall.
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  15. 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.
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