Anatomy of Technology in the Firm
Speaker(s)Diego Comin (Dartmouth College, United States)
Date and time
November 22, 2021
11:30 - 12:30
We collect detailed data on the technologies used in a comprehensive set of business functions in a representative sample of firms in Vietnam, Senegal, and the Brazilian state of Ceara, and construct measures of technology sophistication at the business function and firm levels. There is a large variance of sophistication across firms, but we find that the variance of technology sophistication across the business functions of a firm (within-firm variance) is 2.8 times larger. We develop a model of technology adoption with heterogeneity in adoption costs across business functions and with nonhomothetic production that induce heterogeneity in the marginal value of technology sophistication across functions. The model predicts a stable cross-firm relationship between sophistication in the business function and firm-level technology that we call the technology curve. We find that the slopes of technology curves differ greatly across business functions and that curves account for one third of within-firm variance in sophistication. A development accounting exercise shows that cross-firm variation in sophistication measures accounts for thirty percent of cross-firm differences in productivity.
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