Information, Technology and Information Worker Productivity

Information Systems Research, Forthcoming

40 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2006 Last revised: 31 Aug 2014

Sinan Aral

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Erik Brynjolfsson

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Marshall W. Van Alstyne

Boston University – Questrom School of Business; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 11, 2011

Abstract

We econometrically evaluate information worker productivity at a midsize executive recruiting firm and assess whether the knowledge that workers accessed through their electronic communication networks enabled them to multitask more productively. We estimate dynamic panel data models of multitasking, knowledge networks and productivity using several types of micro-level data: (a) direct observation of 125,000 e-mail messages over a period of 10 months, (b) detailed accounting data on individuals’ project output and team membership for 1300 projects spanning 5 years, and (c) survey and interview data about the same workers’ IT skills, IT use and information sharing. We find that (1) more multitasking is associated with more project output, but with diminishing marginal returns, and that (2) recruiters whose network contacts have heterogeneous knowledge – an even distribution of expertise over many project types – are less productive on average but more productive when juggling diverse multitasking portfolios. These results show how multitasking affects productivity and how knowledge networks, enabled by IT, can improve worker performance. The methods developed can be replicated in other settings, opening new frontiers for research on social networks and IT value.

Keywords: Social Networks, Productivity, Information Worker, IT, Multitasking, Dynamic Panel Data, System GMM

Suggested Citation

Aral, Sinan and Brynjolfsson, Erik and Van Alstyne, Marshall W., Information, Technology and Information Worker Productivity (September 11, 2011). Information Systems Research, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=942310

Sinan Aral (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

77 Massachusetts Ave.
E62-416
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

Erik Brynjolfsson

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

E53-313
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-4319 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://digital.mit.edu/erik

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Marshall W. Van Alstyne

Boston University – Questrom School of Business ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617-358-3571 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://questromapps.bu.edu/mgmt_new/Profiles/VanAlstyneMarshall.html

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School ( email )

Center for Digital Business
5 Cambridge Center - NE25, 7th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-0768 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://web.mit.edu/marshall/www/home.html

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