Big Data Investment, Skills, and Firm Value

Management Science, Forthcoming

37 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2013 Last revised: 7 Jan 2014

See all articles by Prasanna Tambe

Prasanna Tambe

Wharton School, U. Pennsylvania

Date Written: January 4, 2014


This paper considers how labor market factors have shaped early returns to investment in big data technologies. It tests the hypothesis that returns to early investments in Hadoop — a key big data infrastructure technology — have been concentrated in select labor markets due to the importance of aggregate corporate investment levels within a labor market for producing a supply of complementary technical skills during the early stages of technology diffusion. The analysis uses a new data source — the LinkedIn skills database — enabling direct measurement of firms’ investments into emerging technical skills such as Hadoop, Map/Reduce, and Apache Pig. Productivity estimates indicate that from 2006 to 2011, firms’ Hadoop investments were associated with 3% faster productivity growth, but only for firms a) with significant existing data assets and b) in labor networks characterized by significant aggregate Hadoop investment. Evidence for the importance of labor market concentration disappears for investments in mature data technologies, such as SQL-based databases, for which the skills are diffused and readily available through universities and other channels. These findings underscore the importance of geography, corporate investment, and channels for technical skill acquisition for explaining differences in productivity growth rates across labor markets during the spread of new IT innovations.

Keywords: big data, IT value, skills, IT spillovers, Hadoop, IT labor

Suggested Citation

Tambe, Prasanna, Big Data Investment, Skills, and Firm Value (January 4, 2014). Management Science, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Prasanna Tambe (Contact Author)

Wharton School, U. Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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