Investments in Information Technology: Indirect Effects and Information Technology Intensity

Many studies measure the value of information technology (IT) by focusing on how much value is added rather than on the mechanisms that drive value addition. We argue that value from IT arises not only directly through changes in the factor input mix but also indirectly through IT-enabled augmentation of non-IT inputs and changes in the underlying production technology. We develop an augmented form of the Cobb-Douglas production function to separate and measure different productivity-enhancing effects of IT. Using industry-level data from the manufacturing sector, we find evidence that both direct and indirect effects of IT are significant. Partitioning industries into IT-intensive and non-IT-intensive, we find that the indirect effects of IT predominate in the IT-intensive sector. In contrast, the direct effects of IT predominate in the non-IT intensive sector. These results indicate structural differences in the role of IT in production between industries that are IT-intensive and those that are not. The implication for decision-makers is that for IT-intensive industries the gains from IT come primarily through indirect effects such as the augmentation of non-IT capital and labor.
*INFORMS: unless published under the open access option, the publisher will provide a specific copy of the paper that can be posted to a web page Article depositied according to publisher's policy 05/25/2015
IT productivity, Indirect effects, IT investment, Output elasticity, Technological change, Production theory
Mittal, N., and Nault, B.R., "Investments in Information Technology: Indirect Effects and Information Technology Intensity, " Information Systems Research, 20,1 (March 2009), 140-154.