The Effects of Management and Technology Transfer: Evidence from the US Productivity Program
(Job Market Paper)
This uses a unique historical episode as a way to assess the long-run effects of management and technology transfer on firm performance. During the 1950s, as part of the Marshall Plan, the US administration sponsored management-training trips for European managers to US firms and granted US state-of-the-art machines to European firms. I use newly-assembled Italian data on the population of firms eligible to participate in this program, tracked over a twenty-year period. By exploiting an unexpected cut in the US budget, I compare firms that eventually participated in the program with firms that were initially eligible to participate, but were eventually excluded after the budget cut. I find that management transfer significantly increased Italian firms’ survival, sales, employment and productivity. These positive effects persisted for at least fifteen years after the program, a finding that can be explained by the increased investment rate, capital intensity, training expenditure, and professional manager hires in such firms. Companies that received new machines also improved their performance, but the effects were short-lived.
Copyright and Creativity. Evidence from Italian Operas (with Petra Moser)
This paper exploits variation in the adoption of copyright laws within Italy - as a result of Napoleon's military campaign - to examine the effects of copyrights on creativity. To measure variation in the quantity and quality of creative output, we have collected detailed data on 2,598 operas that premiered across eight states within Italy between 1770 and 1900. These data indicate that the adoption of copyrights led to a significant increase in the number of new operas premiered per state and year. Moreover, we find that the number of high-quality operas also increased - measured both by their contemporary popularity and by the longevity of operas. By comparison, evidence for a significant effect of copyright extensions is substantially more limited. Data on composers' places of birth indicate that the adoption of copyrights triggered a shift in patterns of composers' migration, and helped attract a large number of new composers to states that offered copyrights.
Research in Progress|
The Promotion of STEM Education and Its Effect on Innovation (with Nicola Bianchi)
Many recent policies are designed to increase enrollment into university STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields with the intended goal to foster innovation. The effects of these policies, however, are ex-ante ambiguous. For example, the students induced to enroll in STEM majors might have low ability and not produce any innovation. Moreover, the entry of low-ability students might convince the best STEM talents to move elsewhere, resulting in a net decrease of innovation. In this project, we use a 1961 Italian reform that increased enrollment in university STEM programs by more than 200 percent in only a few years. The students allowed in 1961 to enroll in STEM majors were studying STEM-related disciplines in high school but were previously denied access to university. Therefore, the reform replaced high school-educated STEM workers with college-educated STEM workers. We intend to isolate the effects of the policy on invention using a variety of techniques. At the individual level, we link the school and income data of students that were in school just before and after 1961 with information on each Italian patent that they owned or developed. At the national level, we intend to exploit differential increases of STEM skills by geographical location and by field of study.
Technology Transfer, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship (with Nicola Bianchi)
In this project, we exploit a historical international policy to examine whether learning to innovate can be transferred across firms and countries. Starting in 1952, the US government promoted the transmission of technical information from US firms at the technological forefront to European firms recovering from World War II. In practice, this program organized consulting sessions of US experts in Europe and study trips of European technicians and engineers to the US. We collected data on 6,065 Italian firms located in 32 provinces spanning from 1946 to 1970. In addition, we collected information on all patents issued by the Italian Patent Office from 1940 to 2013. All the 6,065 Italian firms were initially declared eligible for the program. Due to restricted funding, however, only firms located in 5 provinces (902 firms) were eventually deemed eligible. To examine the effects of this policy on Italian innovation, we compare how patenting changed after 1952 among participating firms, relative to similar firms in ineligible provinces.