Publications 2005 - 2009
Most of these articles can be accessed through my page on RePEC.
"Desperate Housewives? Communication Difficulties and the Dynamics of Marital (un)Happiness." The Economic Journal, 118:1640-1669 (October 2008).
"Sorting, Selection, and Industry Shakeouts" [with Mihaela Pintea]. Review of Industrial Organization, 33(1):23-40 (August 2008).
"How Much Did the Liberty Shipbuilders Forget?" Management Science, 53(6):908-918 (June 2007).
This paper produces new estimates of the rate of organizational forgetting in the well-known case study of US wartime ship production. Estimates obtained using data constructed from primary sources at the National Archives yield rates of forgetting that are much smaller than previously reported, and may well be zero. The richness of the data make it possible to control for variations in the product mix, to explore alternative formulations for the learning curve, and to investigate the relationship between organizational forgetting and labor turnover.
"Technological Complexity and Economic Growth" [with Mihaela Pintea]. Review of Economic Dynamics, 10(2):276-293 (April 2007).
The last fifty years have witnessed large secular increases in educational attainment and R&D intensity. The fact that these trends have not stimulated more rapid income growth has been a persistent puzzle for growth theorists. We construct a model of endogenous economic growth in which income growth, R&D intensity, and educational attainment depend on the complexity of new technologies. An increase in complexity that makes passive learning more difficult induces increases in R&D and education, alongside a decline in income growth. Our explanation also predicts a concurrent rise in the skill premium.
"Submarkets and the Evolution of Market Structure" [with Steven Klepper]. RAND Journal of Economics, 37(4):862-888 (March 2007).
We construct a model of industry evolution in which the central force for change is the creation and destruction of submarkets. Firms expand when they are able to exploit new opportunities that arrive in the form of submarkets; they contract and ultimately exit when the submarkets in which they operate are destroyed. This simple framework can transparently explain a wide range of well-known regularities about industry dynamics, most notably the subtle relationships between size, age, growth, and survival. Data on the laser industry, where submarkets are prominent, further illustrate the ability of the model to explain distinctive patterns in the evolution of industries and firms.
"Founder Quality and Firm Performance: Implications for Local Development Strategies." Australian Economic Review, 40(1):97-105 (March 2007).
"Spinoff Entry in High-Tech Industries: Motives and Consequences" [with Steven Klepper]. In Franco Malerba and Stefano Brusoni (eds.), Perspectives on Innovation, Chapter 6, pp. 187-218. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, (March 2007).
"Collective Equipoise, Disappointment and the Therapeutic Misconception: On the Consequences of Selection for Clinical Research" [with Margaret Byrne]. Medical Decision Making, 26(5):467-479 (September/October 2006).
Private information induces individuals to self-select as subjects into clinical research trials, and it induces researchers to select which trials they conduct. We show that selection can induce ex ante therapeutic misconception and ex post disappointment among research subjects; and it undermines it the rationale of collective equipoise as an ethical basis for clinical trials. Selection provides a reason to make non-trivial payments to subjects and it implies that researchers should not design experiments to maximize statistical power.
"Technical Change and the Demand for Skills During the Second Industrial Revolution: Evidence from the Merchant Marine, 1891-1912" [with Aimee Chin and Chinhui Juhn]. Review of Economics and Statistics, 88(3):572-578 (August 2006).
Using a large, individual-level wage data set, we examine the impact of a major technological innovation — the development of powerful and economical steam engines — on skill demand and the wage structure among the merchant marine. Our data reveal a complex range of responses to the new technology. The new technology created a new demand for skilled workers, the engineers, while destroying other skills relevant only to sail. There were also contradictory effects among the less skilled. On the one hand, technological innovation may have been deskilling for production work since many experienced able-bodied seamen were replaced by laborers in the engine room. On the other hand, able-bodied seamen employed on steam earned a premium relative to their counterparts on sail. Our data allow us to identify this steam premium as a skill premium rather than a compensating differential. At the managerial level, we identify a skill premium on steam for mates, whose job became more complex on the larger vessels, but not for bosuns whose job did not. In aggregate, there is little change traditional measures of the skill premium, but such measures are too crude to illuminate the rich wage dynamics induced by a major technical innovation.
"Patent Citations and the Geography of Knowledge Spillovers: Evidence from Inventor- and Examiner-Added Citations." Review of Economics and Statistics, 88(2):383-389 (May 2006).
"Patent Citations and the Geography of Knowledge Spillovers: A Reassessment" [with Melanie Fox Kean]. American Economic Review, 95(1):450-460 (March 2005). Reprinted in Zoltan J. Acs (ed.), The Knowledge Spillover Theory of Entrepreneurship, Edward Elgar (2010)
"Patent Citations and the Geography of Knowledge Spillovers: A Reassessment: Reply" [with Melanie Fox Kean]. American Economic Review, 95(1):465-466 (March 2005).
"Selection and Firm Survival. Evidence from the Shipbuilding Industry, 1825-1914." Review of Economics and Statistics, 87(1):26-36 (February 2005).
Several theories of firm performance can explain the well-known observation that survival is positively related to age. However, a more mundane explanation – selection bias driven by variations in firm quality – may also underlie the phenomenon. This paper employs a 90-year plant-level panel data set on the US iron and steel shipbuilding industry of the 19th and early 20th centuries to discriminate between the two explanations. The shipbuilding industry exhibits the usual joint dependency of survival on age and size, but this dependency is eliminated after controlling for heterogeneity by using pre-entry experience as a proxy for firm quality. The evidence points to a dominant role for selection bias in creating the age-dependency of survival. At the same time, pre-entry experience is found to have a large and extremely persistent effect on survival, and this finding is inconsistent with standard explanations for the role of pre-entry experience on firm performance.