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Multi-tasking and the Returns to Experience

Author

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  • Parama Chaudhury

Abstract

In this paper, I study how an increase in the use of new work practices that involve multi-tasking has affected the returns to experience. If each task in a job has a concave learning curve, then increasing the number of tasks may increase the returns to experience. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, I provide evidence for the fact that successive cohorts have greater returns to experience. Next, I construct proxies for multi-tasking using Paul Osterman's 1992 survey of workplace practices in U.S. establishments, and find that (i) later cohorts choose jobs with greater multi-tasking, (ii) the rate of within-job wage growth rises with the degree of multi-tasking, and (iii) the returns to experience are larger in jobs with more multi-tasking. Finally, I find mixed evidence on the effect of unobserved heterogeneity, which implies that part of these larger returns to experience may be because those in jobs with more multi-tasking have higher unobserved ability.

Suggested Citation

  • Parama Chaudhury, 2010. "Multi-tasking and the Returns to Experience," Economics Series Working Papers 518, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:518
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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/working_papers/paper518.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Helpman, Elhanan & Rangel, Antonio, 1999. "Adjusting to a New Technology: Experience and Training," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 4(4), pages 359-383, December.
    2. Carmichael, H Lorne & MacLeod, W Bentley, 1993. "Multiskilling, Technical Change and the Japanese Firm," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(416), pages 142-160, January.
    3. Ichniowski, Casey & Shaw, Kathryn & Prennushi, Giovanna, 1997. "The Effects of Human Resource Management Practices on Productivity: A Study of Steel Finishing Lines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 291-313.
    4. Eve Caroli & John Van Reenen, 2001. "Skill-Biased Organizational Change? Evidence from A Panel of British and French Establishments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1449-1492.
    5. Ann P. Bartel & Nachum Sicherman, 1999. "Technological Change and Wages: An Interindustry Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 285-325, April.
    6. Avner Ben-Ner & Fanmin Kong & Tzu-Shian Han & Nien-Chi Liu & Yong-Seung Park, 2001. "The Organization of Work: Changes and Their Consequences," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, pages 121-134.
    7. Thomas N Hubbard & Luis Garicano, 2003. "Specialization, Firms, and Markets: The Division of Labor Within and Between Law Firms," Working Papers 03-13, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    8. Bronars, Stephen G & Famulari, Melissa, 1997. "Wage, Tenure, and Wage Growth Variation within and across Establishment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 285-317, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Gibbons & Michael Waldman, 2006. "Enriching a Theory of Wage and Promotion Dynamics inside Firms," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 59-108, January.
    2. Boucekkine, Raouf & Crifo, Patricia, 2008. "Human Capital Accumulation And The Transition From Specialization To Multitasking," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(03), pages 320-344, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Teams; job rotation; experience; cohorts;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • 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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