Advanced Technologies Adoption and Use by U.S. Firms: Evidence from the Annual Business Survey

94 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2021 Last revised: 20 Apr 2022

See all articles by Nikolas Jason Zolas

Nikolas Jason Zolas

U.S. Census Bureau - Center for Economic Studies; University of California, Davis

Zachary Kroff

U.S. Census Bureau

Erik Brynjolfsson

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Stanford

Kristina McElheran

University of Toronto - Strategic Management

David Beede

U.S. Census Bureau

Catherine Buffington

US Census Bureau

Nathan Goldschlag

Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau

Lucia Foster

U.S. Census Bureau - Center for Economic Studies

Emin Dinlersoz

Center for Economic Studies - US Census Bureau

Date Written: December 2020

Abstract

We introduce a new survey module intended to complement and expand research on the causes and consequences of advanced technology adoption. The 2018 Annual Business Survey (ABS), conducted by the Census Bureau in partnership with the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), provides comprehensive and timely information on the diffusion among U.S. firms of advanced technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, robotics, and the digitization of business information. The 2018 ABS is a large, nationally representative sample of over 850,000 firms covering all private, nonfarm sectors of the economy. We describe the motivation for and development of the technology module in the ABS, as well as provide a first look at technology adoption and use patterns across firms and sectors. We find that digitization is quite widespread, as is some use of cloud computing. In contrast, advanced technology adoption is rare and generally skewed towards larger and older firms. Adoption patterns are consistent with a hierarchy of increasing technological sophistication, in which most firms that adopt AI or other advanced business technologies also use the other, more widely diffused technologies. Finally, while few firms are at the technology frontier, they tend to be large so technology exposure of the average worker is significantly higher. This new data will be available to qualified researchers on approved projects in the Federal Statistical Research Data Center network.

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Suggested Citation

Zolas, Nikolas Jason and Kroff, Zachary and Brynjolfsson, Erik and McElheran, Kristina Steffenson and Beede, David and Buffington, Catherine and Goldschlag, Nathan and Foster, Lucia and Dinlersoz, Emin, Advanced Technologies Adoption and Use by U.S. Firms: Evidence from the Annual Business Survey (December 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w28290, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3759827

Nikolas Jason Zolas (Contact Author)

U.S. Census Bureau - Center for Economic Studies ( email )

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University of California, Davis ( email )

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Zachary Kroff

U.S. Census Bureau

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Erik Brynjolfsson

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Stanford ( email )

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David Beede

U.S. Census Bureau

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D.C., WA 20233
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Catherine Buffington

US Census Bureau ( email )

4600 Silver Hill Road
Washington, DC 20233
United States

Nathan Goldschlag

Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau ( email )

4600 Silver Hill Road
Washington, DC 20233-9100
United States

Lucia Foster

U.S. Census Bureau - Center for Economic Studies ( email )

4700 Silver Hill Road
Washington, DC 20233
United States

Emin Dinlersoz

Center for Economic Studies - US Census Bureau ( email )

4600 Silver Hill Road
Washington, DC 20233
United States

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