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Digitalisation and productivity: In search of the holy grail – Firm-level empirical evidence from EU countries


  • Peter Gal
  • Giuseppe Nicoletti
  • Theodore Renault
  • Stéphane Sorbe
  • Christina Timiliotis


This paper assesses how the adoption of a range of digital technologies affects firm productivity. It combines cross-country firm-level data on productivity and industry-level data on digital technology adoption in an empirical framework that accounts for firm heterogeneity. The results provide robust evidence that digital adoption in an industry is associated to productivity gains at the firm level. Effects are relatively stronger in manufacturing and routine-intensive activities. They also tend to be stronger for more productive firms and weaker in presence of skill shortages, which may relate to the complementarities between digital technologies and other forms of capital (e.g. skills, organisation, or intangibles). As a result, digital technologies may have contributed to the growing dispersion in productivity performance across firms. Hence, policies to support digital adoption should go hand in hand with creating the conditions to enable the catch-up of lagging firms, notably by easing access to skills.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Gal & Giuseppe Nicoletti & Theodore Renault & Stéphane Sorbe & Christina Timiliotis, 2019. "Digitalisation and productivity: In search of the holy grail – Firm-level empirical evidence from EU countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1533, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1533-en
    DOI: 10.1787/5080f4b6-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Briglauer, Wolfgang & Stocker, Volker, 2020. "Bedeutung digitaler Infrastrukturen und Dienste und Maßnahmen zur Förderung der Resilienz in Krisenzeiten," Policy Notes 42, EcoAustria – Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Cathles, Alison & Nayyar, Gaurav & Rückert, Désirée, 2020. "Digital technologies and firm performance: Evidence from Europe," EIB Working Papers 2020/06, European Investment Bank (EIB).
    3. Chiara Criscuolo & Alexander Hijzen & Cyrille Schwellnus & Erling Barth & Wen-Hao Chen & Richard Fabling & Priscilla Fialho & Balazs Stadler & Richard Upward & Wouter Zwysen & Katarzyna Grabska-Romago, 2020. "Workforce composition, productivity and pay: the role of firms in wage inequality," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1603, OECD Publishing.
    4. Claudio Battiati & Cecilia Jona-Lasinio & Silvia Sopranzetti, 2020. "Productivity growth and global value chain participation in the digital age," Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence (ESCoE) Discussion Papers ESCoE DP-2020-04, Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence (ESCoE).
    5. Inha Oh & Dongnyok Shim, 2020. "IT Adoption and Sustainable Growth of Firms in Different Industries—Are the Benefits Still Expected?," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(22), pages 1-29, November.
    6. Cette Gilbert & Nevoux Sandra & Py Loriane, 2020. "The Impact of ICTs and Digitalization on Productivity and Labor Share: Evidence from French firms," Working papers 785, Banque de France.
    7. Stefan Schweikl & Robert Obermaier, 2020. "Lessons from three decades of IT productivity research: towards a better understanding of IT-induced productivity effects," Management Review Quarterly, Springer, vol. 70(4), pages 461-507, November.
    8. Alexander Salmen, 2021. "New Product Launch Success: A Literature Review," Acta Universitatis Agriculturae et Silviculturae Mendelianae Brunensis, Mendel University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 151-176.
    9. Teruel Carrizosa, Mercedes & Coad, Alexander & Domnick, Clemens & Flachenecker, Florian & Harasztosi, Péter & Janiri, Mario Lorenzo & Pál, Rozália, 2021. "The birth of new high growth enterprises: Internationalisation through new digital technologies," EIB Working Papers 2021/02, European Investment Bank (EIB).
    10. Cusolito,Ana Paula & Lederman,Daniel & Pena,Jorge O., 2020. "The Effects of Digital-Technology Adoption on Productivity and Factor Demand : Firm-level Evidence from Developing Countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9333, The World Bank.
    11. Irene Bertschek & Franz Josef Pschierer & Michael Grömling & Markus Taube & Henning Klodt, 2019. "Global und Hidden Champions – Unternehmen verändern die Welt. Ist staatliche Regulierung möglich?," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 72(15), pages 03-19, August.
    12. Raphaela Andres & Timothy DeStefano & Thomas Niebel & Steffen Viete, 2020. "Capital incentive policies in the age of cloud computing: An empirical case study," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2020/07, OECD Publishing.
    13. Maryann P. Feldman & Serden Ozcan & Toke Reichstein, 2021. "Variation in organizational practices: are startups really different?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 1-31, January.

    More about this item


    cloud computing; digitalisation; high-speed internet; ICT; productivity; skills;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • 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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