Nature Versus Nurture in the Origins of Highly Productive Businesses: An Exploratory Analysis of U.S. Manufacturing Establishments
37 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2011
Date Written: September 1, 2011
This paper investigates the origins of productivity leaders, those that operate close to and help push out the production frontier. Do such businesses emerge as top performers from the very beginning of their lives, for example as the consequence of an outstanding founding idea, technology, or location? Or, at the other extreme, do they appear initially as completely average (or even underperformers) that exhibit gradual improvement as they learn and develop with age? To answer this question we draw upon five decades of U.S. Census of Manufacturing (CM) establishment-level data, tracing the productivity leaders of the most recent CM (2007) back over their observed life spans. We also examine possible industry-level correlates of variation in the extent of nature versus nurture that are suggested by theories of industry dynamics and economic growth.
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