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Naval Engineering and Labor Specialization during the Industrial Revolution

  • Darrell J. Glaser

    ()

    (United States Naval Academy)

  • Ahmed S. Rahman

    ()

    (United States Naval Academy)

This paper explores the roles of capital- and technology-skill complementarities in labor allocation decisions within the U.S. Navy. During the latter 19th century the ocer corps was highly specialized, and was split between groups of line and sta ocers. This was also a time of dramatic technological changes which a ected nearly every facet of naval opera- tions. Speci cally, naval technological developments tended to be \engineering-biased," in that they raised the relative importance of engineer-oriented skills. This created a dilemma for the Navy, as it navigated the balance between the bene ts of a specialized workforce implementing increasingly complex technologies with rising communication and coordina- tion costs. We rst document the extent of capital- and technology-skill complementarities within the navy which fostered greater labor specialization. We then show how the Navy vitiated the specialized human capital of ocers by blending the corps. The study o ers in- sights into how an industry undergoing wrenching technological changes managed its labor and human capital allocation to help the U.S. become a world class naval power.

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File URL: http://www.usna.edu/EconDept/RePEc/usn/wp/usnawp38.pdf
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Paper provided by United States Naval Academy Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 38.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:usn:usnawp:38
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  1. J. Glaser, Darrell & S. Rahman, Ahmed, 2011. "Human Capital and Technological Transition: Insights from the U.S. Navy," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 71(03), pages 704-729, September.
  2. Darrell J. Glaser & Ahmed S. Rahman, 2012. "Technical Human Capital and Job Mobility in an Era of Rapid Technological Innovation," Departmental Working Papers 37, United States Naval Academy Department of Economics.
  3. Aimee Chin & Chinhui Juhn & Peter Thompson, 2006. "Technical Change and the Demand for Skills during the Second Industrial Revolution: Evidence from the Merchant Marine, 1891-1912," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(3), pages 572-578, August.
  4. Kim, Sunwoong, 1989. "Labor Specialization and the Extent of the Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 692-705, June.
  5. Hadfield, Gillian K., 1999. "A coordination model of the sexual division of labor," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 125-153, October.
  6. Mohtadi, Hamid & Kim, Sunwoong, 1992. "Labor Specialization and Endogenous Growth," Bulletins 7452, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
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