E-mail a powerful tool to increase productivity
Neil Gandal, Charles King, Marshall Van Alstyne, 23 April 2007
There has already been evidence suggesting that information technology (IT) makes significant contributions to productivity; the authors of CEPR DP 6260 explore its impact on individual users in a white-collar setting.
Using data extracted from a rich set of measures (the number of messages sent and received, whether those messages were sent from without or within the firm, the size of individuals' internal and external networks and the size of e-mail messages) the authors found that those workers with large internal networks benefit most from the technology. They go on to argue that the size of external networks and the number of messages sent and received has relatively little bearing on productivity. This is attributed to the proposition that productivity is higher when people are placed in heavier information flows. The most effective users of IT are those who use it to gain a central position in their social networks.
These findings proved to be relevant across variables between workers such as education, experience, gender and age. The same pattern emerged amongst both senior partners and lower-level employees. Although this study used data from a management recruitment firm, the authors suggest that the findings could be applied more broadly across other industries that have a case-based business models-such as sales, accounting, fund-raising, law, medicine, real estate and consulting.
DP6260 Information Technology Use and Productivity at the Individual Level
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