A basic neoclassical model of production is often used to assess the contribution of investment to output growth. In the model, investment raises the capital stock and output growth increases in proportion to the growth in capital. It has been argued, however, that computers, as a "general purpose technology," lead to process innovations and facilitate organizational coinvestments. Since there may be a learning period before firms realize the full potential of the new technology and begin to implement new processes, there may be a lag between the growth in investment and its benefits. In fact, during periods of rapid adoption of new technologies and equipment, firms may incur adjustment costs and struggle to maintain previous levels of output.

Using aggregate annual Canadian data from 1961 to 2001, the author explores the magnitude of the effect that investment in new technology, in the form of new computer hardware, can have on output growth. He finds that such investment has a positive effect on output growth that cannot be explained by growth in inputs. This effect, however, is not instantaneous and is strongest only three years after the initial investment. Furthermore, the author's findings suggest that the effect of computer hardware investment has grown over time.

Published In:

International Productivity Monitor (1492-9759)
Autumn 2004. Iss. 9, pp. 52-61