Thursday, June 29, 2017

For a More Productive Workforce, Scientific Know-How Helps - WSJ

For a More Productive Workforce, Scientific Know-How Helps - WSJ:

So a plant run without scientists and engineers will be 4.4% less productive. This might be for several reasons, but most likely because off efficiency. Scientists are always trying to figure out a better way to do stuff.

It is good to have empirical evidence to support the value of scientists outside of the labs. Engineers could help improve the entire production and supply chain.

Here is the working paper: NBER Working Paper№23484, “The Effects of Scientists and Engineers on Productivity and Earnings
at the Establishment Where They Work,” June 2017, by Erling Barth, James C. Davis, Richard
B. Freeman, and Andrew J. Wang.

There's several questions that would be interesting to know. All would require a much more careful read of the paper. Why would companies have plants that do not have scientists and engineers? These are outside of the labs where basic research is done.

Hall & Hinkelman (2013) argue that a cross section of the organization would be use starting early in the basic research stage and going all the way through to production. This Enabling Technology Unit (ETU) team would include engineers, scientists and marketing folks. Since they would be working together, it would not make much difference if the scientist/engineer was in the lab or in the factory/plant.

Maybe the ETU approach would offer even more efficiencies than those found by moving some scientists into the plant.


Hall, E. B. & Hinkelman, R. M. (2013). Perpetual Innovation™: A guide to strategic
planning, patent commercialization and enduring competitive advantage, Version
. Morrisville, NC: LuLu Press.
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