Information Sharing, Social Norms and Performance
Marco Di Maggio
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Marshall W. Van Alstyne
Boston University - Department of Management Information Systems; MIT Sloan School
March 2, 2012
What drives workers to seek information from their peers? And how does communication affect employee performance? Answers have proven elusive due to problems obtaining precise measures of white collar output and of observing the information individuals consume. We address these questions using an original panel data set that includes all accesses to an information-sharing platform, together with performance measures of all loan officers at a major Japanese bank. This paper makes three contributions. First, we show that skill level differences, job rotation, and differences among branches each affect the demand for information. There also exists substitution between an agent's ability and the amount of information consumed. Low skill agents benefit the most from consuming others' information. Second, restricting attention to officers who switched branches, we show that they perform on average significantly worse than before the switch, suggesting that job rotation destroys specialized human capital. We also find that an officer who shares information increases his chances of promotion rather than competes for promotion less effectively. Third, we measure the size of productivity gains based on consuming shared information. After controlling for unobserved heterogeneity over time, between branches, and among officers, a standard deviation increase in information access increases performance by roughly ten percent. By instrumenting the demand for information with the exogenous variation arising from cultural differences among branches, we are able to assess the causal effect of communication on performance.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 44
Keywords: learning effect, information sharing, productivity, communication
JEL Classification: D83, G21, J24, L25, M5, D73working papers series
Date posted: July 23, 2011 ; Last revised: March 4, 2012
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