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Nature Versus Nurture in the Origins of Highly Productive Businesses: An Exploratory Analysis of U.S. Manufacturing Establishments

37 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2011  

J. David Brown

US Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

John S. Earle

George Mason University - Schar School of Policy and Government; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: September 1, 2011

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Brown, J. David and Earle, John S., Nature Versus Nurture in the Origins of Highly Productive Businesses: An Exploratory Analysis of U.S. Manufacturing Establishments (September 1, 2011). US Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies Paper No. CES-WP-11-26. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1924847 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1924847

J. David Brown (Contact Author)

US Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies ( email )

4600 Silver Hill Road
Washington, DC 20233
United States
301-763-8769 (Phone)
301-763-5935 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

John S. Earle

George Mason University - Schar School of Policy and Government ( email )

3351 Fairfax Drive
MS 3B1
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
703-993-8023 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://earle.gmu.edu

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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