Shane Greenstein

Thomas Henry Carroll-Ford Foundation Visiting Professor of Business Administration

Shane Greenstein is the Thomas Henry Carroll Ford Foundation Visiting Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. Greenstein is Professor at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. He was administrative head of his department from 2002 to 2005. He is the Kellogg Chair of Information Technology. Greenstein is co-director of the program on the economics of digitization at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a member of Open Internet Access Committee, which advises the FCC. He is presently finishing a history of the development of the commercial Internet in the United States, called Innovation from the Edges. He also publishes commentary on his blog virulent word of mouse and digitopoly.


Shane Greenstein is the Thomas Henry Carroll Ford Foundation Visiting Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. Greenstein is Professor at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. He was administrative head of his department from 2002 to 2005. He is the Kellogg Chair of Information Technology. Greenstein is co-director of the program on the economics of digitization at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a member of Open Internet Access Committee, which advises the FCC. He is presently finishing a history of the development of the commercial Internet in the United States, called Innovation from the Edges. He also publishes commentary on his blog virulent word of mouse and digitopoly.

Greenstein received his BA from University of California at Berkeley in 1983, and his PhD from Stanford University in 1989, both in economics. He also continues to receive a daily education in life from his wife and children.

Journal Articles

  1. Digital Dark Matter and the Economic Contribution of Apache

    Researchers have long hypothesized that research outputs from government, university, and private company R&D contribute to economic growth, but these contributions may be difficult to measure when they take a non-pecuniary form. The growth of networking devices and the Internet in the 1990s and 2000s magnified these challenges, as illustrated by the deployment of the descendent of the NCSA HTTPd server, otherwise known as Apache. This study asks whether this experience could produce measurement issues in standard productivity analysis, specifically, omission and attribution issues, and, if so, whether the magnitude is large enough to matter. The study develops and analyzes a novel data set consisting of a 1% sample of all outward-facing web servers used in the United States. We find that use of Apache potentially accounts for a mismeasurement of somewhere between $2 billion and $12 billion, which equates to between 1.3% and 8.7% of the stock of prepackaged software in private fixed investment in the United States and a very high rate of return to the original federal investment in the Internet. We argue that these findings point to a large potential undercounting of the rate of return from IT spillovers from the invention of the Internet. The findings also suggest a large potential undercounting of “digital dark matter” in general.

    Keywords: open source; Apache; Economic measurement; Digital economics; Measurement and Metrics; Open Source Distribution; Internet; Information Technology; Software; Economic Growth; Research and Development; Web Services Industry; Information Technology Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Greenstein, Shane, and Frank Nagle. "Digital Dark Matter and the Economic Contribution of Apache." Research Policy (in press).

Working Papers

  1. Digital Dark Matter and the Economics of Apache

    Researchers have long hypothesized that spillovers from government, university, and private company R&D contribute to economic growth, but these contributions may be difficult to measure when they take a non-pecuniary form. The growth of networking devices and the Internet in the 1990s and 2000s magnified these challenges, as illustrated by the deployment of the descendent of the NCSA HTTPd server, otherwise known as Apache. This study asks whether this experience could produce measurement issues in standard productivity analysis, specifically omission and attribution issues, and, if so, whether the magnitude is large enough to matter. The study develops and analyzes a novel data set consisting of a 1% sample of all outward-facing web servers used in the United States. We find that use of Apache potentially accounts for a mismeasurement of somewhere between $2 billion and $12 billion, which equates to between 1.3% and 8.7% of the stock of prepackaged software in private fixed investment in the United States. We argue that these findings point to a large potential undercounting of "digital dark matter" and related IT spillovers from university and federal funding.

    Keywords: Measurement and Metrics; Internet; Performance Productivity; Software; Economic Growth; Research and Development;

    Citation:

    Greenstein, Shane, and Frank Nagle. "Digital Dark Matter and the Economics of Apache." NBER Working Paper Series, No. 19507, October 2013.