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Information, Decisions, and Productivity: On-Board Computers and Capacity Utilization in Trucking

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  • Thomas N. Hubbard

Abstract

Productivity reflects not only how efficiently inputs are transformed into outputs, but also how well information is brought to bear on resource allocation decisions. This paper examines this empirically by looking at how on-board computer (OBC) adoption has affected capacity utilization in the trucking industry. Estimates using 1997 data indicate that capacity utilization has increased by an average of 13% among trucks for which advanced OBCs have been adopted. The average benefits to adopters are higher in 1997 than 1992, suggesting lags to the returns to adoption, and are highly skewed across hauls. The 1997 estimates imply that OBC-enabled improvements in communications and resource allocation decisions have led to a 3% increase in capacity utilization in the industry, which translates to billions of dollars of annual benefits. The commercialization of other wireless networking applications has the potential to generate analogous benefits in other contexts.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas N. Hubbard, 2001. "Information, Decisions, and Productivity: On-Board Computers and Capacity Utilization in Trucking," NBER Working Papers 8525, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8525
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Susan Athey & Scott Stern, 2002. "The Impact of Information Technology on Emergency Health Care Outcomes," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(3), pages 399-432, Autumn.
    2. Hubbard, Thomas N, 2001. "Contractual Form and Market Thickness in Trucking," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(2), pages 369-386, Summer.
    3. George P. Baker & Thomas N. Hubbard, 2000. "Contractibility and Asset Ownership: On-Board Computers and Governance in U.S. Trucking," NBER Working Papers 7634, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Thomas N. Hubbard, 2000. "The Demand for Monitoring Technologies: The Case of Trucking," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 533-560.
    5. Lichtenberg, F.R. & Lehr, B., 1996. "Computer Use and Productivity Growth in federal Government Agencies," Papers 96-10, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
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    Cited by:

    1. Edward N. Wolff, 2002. "Productivity, computerization, and skill change," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q3, pages 63-87.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity

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