Article | American Economic Review | February 2012

Americans Do IT Better: US Multinationals and the Productivity Miracle

by Nicholas Bloom, Raffaella Sadun and John Van Reenen

Abstract

US productivity growth accelerated after 1995 (unlike Europe's), particularly in sectors that intensively use information technologies (IT). Using two new micro panel datasets we show that US multinationals operating in Europe also experienced a "productivity miracle." US multinationals obtained higher productivity from IT than non-US multinationals, particularly in the same sectors responsible for the US productivity acceleration. Furthermore, establishments taken over by US multinationals (but not by non-US multinationals) increased the productivity of their IT. Combining pan-European firm-level IT data with our management practices survey, we find that the US IT related productivity advantage is primarily due to its tougher "people management" practices.

Keywords: IT productivity; American IT productivity; Information Technology; Performance Productivity; Multinational Firms and Management; Management Practices and Processes; United States; Europe;

Citation:

Bloom, Nicholas, Raffaella Sadun, and John Van Reenen. "Americans Do IT Better: US Multinationals and the Productivity Miracle." American Economic Review 102, no. 1 (February 2012): 167–201. (Slides; Summary; The Economist; Financial Times; New York Times.)