The large within-industry productivity dispersion commonly found in the firm-level productivity literature (Syverson (2011)) may reflect many factors and mechanisms: idiosyncratic productivity shocks, frictions, distortions, degree of competition, economies of scope, and product differentiation. In


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We examine whether underlying industry innovation dynamics are an important driver of the large dispersion in productivity across firms within narrowly defined sectors. Our hypothesis is that periods of rapid innovation are accompanied by high rates of entry, significant experimentation and, in turn, a high degree of productivity dispersion. Following this experimentation phase, successful innovators and adopters grow while unsuccessful innovators contract and exit yielding productivity growth. We examine the dynamic relationship between entry, productivity dispersion, and productivity growth using a new comprehensive firm-level dataset for the U.S. We find a surge of entry within an industry yields an immediate increase in productivity dispersion and a lagged increase in productivity growth. These patterns are more pronounced for the High Tech sector where we expect there to be more innovative activities. These patterns change over time suggesting other forces are at work during the post-2000 slowdown in aggregate productivity.
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