Skip to main content

The ‘new firm paradigm’ and the provision of training: The impact of ICT, workplace organization and human capital


The paper analyzes the relevance of the three constituent elements of the ‘new firm paradigm’, i.e. ICT, workplace organization and human capital, as determinants of a firm’s provision of training. We concentrate on apprenticeship training, which in German-speaking countries is a widespread practice of skill formation. Econometric studies dealing with a firm’s provision of apprenticeships so far did not pay much attention to the influence of a shift towards the new paradigm. We find that apprenticeship training is an appropriate way of skill formation in advanced economies, but this may not be the case in leading-edge segments of the economy.


  • Acemoglu, D., and J.-S. Pischke (1998), “Why Do Firms Train? Theory and Evidence”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 113, pp. 79–119.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Acemoglu, D., and J.-S. Pischke (1999), “Beyond Becker: Training in Imperfect Labour Markets”, Economic Journal, 109, pp. 112–142.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Arvanitis, S. (2005), “Information Technology, Workplace Organization and the Demand for Labour of Different Skills: Firm-Level Evidence for the Swiss Economy”, in H. Kriesi, P. Farago, M. Kohli and M. Zarin-Nejadan (Eds.), Contemporary Switzerland: Revisiting the Special Case, pp. 135–162, Palgrave Macmillan, New York and Houndmills.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Arvanitis, S. (2010), “Are Firm Innovativeness and Firm Age Relevant for the Supply of Vocational Training? A Study Based on Swiss Micro Data”, Open Economics Journal, 3, pp. 43–57.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Arvanitis, S., and E. N. Loukis (2009), “Employee Education, Information and Communication Technology, Workplace Organization and Trade: A Comparative Analysis of Greek and Swiss Enterprises”, KOF Working Papers No. 34, ETH Zurich.

  • Arvanitis, S., and T. Stucki (2011), “Training Propensity of Start-ups in Switzerland — A Study Based on Data for the Start-up Cohort 1996/97”, The IUP Journal of Entrepreneurship Development, 7(4), pp. 6–40.

    Google Scholar 

  • Autor, D. H., F. Levy, and R. Murnane (2003), “The Skill Content of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 113, pp. 1169–1213.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Becker, G. S. (1964), Human Capital, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

    Google Scholar 

  • Beckmann, M. (2002), „Lohnstrukturverzerrung und betriebliche Ausbildung. Empirische Analyse des Acemoglu-Pischke-Modells mit Daten des IAB-Betriebspanels“, Mitteilungen aus der Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung, 35, pp. 189–204.

    Google Scholar 

  • Beckmann, M. (2008), “Wage Compression and Firm-sponsored Training in Germany: Empirical Evidence for the Acemoglu-Pischke Model from a Zero-inflated Count Data Model”, Applied Economics Quarterly (Konjunkturpolitik), 48, pp. 368–389.

    Google Scholar 

  • Beicht, U., G. Walden, and H. Herget (2004), Kosten und Nutzen der betrieblichen Berufsbildung in Deutschland, Bertelsmann, Bielefeld.

  • Bertschek, I., and U. Kaiser (2004), “Productivity Effects of Organizational Change: Microeconometric Evidence”, Management Science, 50(3), pp. 394–404.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bocquet, R., and O. Brossard (2007), “The Variety of ICT Adopters in the Intra-firm Diffusion Process: Theoretical Arguments and Empirical Evidence”, Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, 18, pp. 409–437.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bresnahan, T. F. (1999), “Computerisation and Wage Dispersion: An Analytical Reinterpretation”, Economic Journal, 109, pp. 390–415.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bresnahan, T. F., E. Brynjolfsson, and L. M. Hitt (2002), “Information Technology, Workplace Organisation, and the Demand for Skilled Labour: Firm-Level Evidence”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112, pp. 339–376.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Burns, T., and G. Stalker (1994), The Management of Innovation, 3rd Edition, (first published in 1961), Oxford University Press: Oxford.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Caroli, E. (2001), “New Technologies, Organizational Change and the Skill Bias: What Do we Know?”, in P. Petit and L. Soete (Eds.), Technology and the Future of European Employment, pp. 259–292, Elgar, Cheltenham.

  • Cassiman, B., and R. Veugelers (2002), “R&D Cooperation and Spillovers: Some Empirical Evidence from Belgium”, American Economic Review, 92(4), pp. 1169–1184.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dustmann, C., and U. Schönberg (2009), “Training and Union Wages”, Review of Economics and Statistics, 91, pp. 363–376.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Elbaum, B., and N. Singh (1995), “The Economic Rationale of Apprenticeship Training: Some Lessons from British and U.S. Experience”, Industrial Relations, 34, pp. 593–622.

    Google Scholar 

  • European Commission (2007b), The European E-business Report, 2006/07, DG Enterprise and Industry, Luxembourg, available at: (accessed 16 September 2009).

  • Finegold, D., and K. Wagner (2002), “Are Apprenticeships Still Relevant in 21st Century? A Case Study of Changing Youth Training Arrangements in German Banks”, Industrial and Labour Relations Review, 55, pp. 667–685.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Franz, W., and D. Soskice (1995), “The German Apprenticeship System”, in F. Buttler, W. Franz, R. Schettkat and D. Soskice (Eds), Institutional Frameworks and Labor Market Performance, pp. 208–234, Routledge, London.

    Google Scholar 

  • Franz, W., V. Steiner, and V. Zimmermann (2000), „Die betriebliche Ausbildungsbereitschaft im technologischen und demographischen Wandel“, ZEW Wirtschaftsanalysen, 46, Nomos, Baden-Baden.

  • Gersbach, H., and A. Schmutzler (2012), “A Product-Market Theory of Industry-Specific Training”, RAND Journal of Economics, forthcoming.

  • Harhoff, D., and T. J. Kane (1997), “Is the German Apprenticeship System a Panacea for the U.S. Labor Market?”, Journal of Population Economics, 2, pp. 171–196.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Heckman, J. J. (1979), “Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error”, Econometrica, 47, pp. 153–161.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hollenstein, H., N. Sydow, and M. Wörter (2003), Einsatz von Informationsund Kommunikationstechnologien in den Schweizer Unternehmen, KOF/ETH-Panelumfrage 2002 mit internationalen Vergleichen, edited by the Bundesamt für Statistik (BFS), Neuchâtel.

  • Kessler, A. S., and C. Lülfesmann (2006), “The Theory of Human Capital Revisited: On the Interaction of General and Specific Investments”, Economic Journal, 116, pp. 903–923.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lindbeck, A., and D. Snower (2000), “Multitask Learning and the Reorganization of Work: From Tayloristic to Holistic Organization”, Journal of Labor Economics, 18, pp. 353–376.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Milgrom, P., and J. Roberts (1990), “The Economics of Modern Manufacturing: Technology, Strategy, and Organization”, American Economic Review, 80, pp. 511–528.

    Google Scholar 

  • Muehlemann, S., H. Pfeifer, G. Walden, F. Wenzelmann, and S. C. Wolter (2010), “The Financing of Apprenticeship Training in the Light of Labour Market Regulations”, Labour Economics, 17, pp. 799–809.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Niederalt, M. (2004), Zur ökonomischen Analyse betrieblicher Lehrstellenangebote in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main.

  • Piva, M., E. Santarelli, and M. Vivarelli (2005), “The Skill Bias Effect of Technological and Organisational Change: Evidence and Policy Implications”, Research Policy, 34, pp. 141–157.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ryan, P. (2001), “The School-to-Work Transition: A Cross-National Perspective”, Journal of Economic Literature, 39, pp. 34–92.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ryan, P., and S. C. Wolter (2011), “Apprenticeship”,in: E. A. Hanushek, S. Machin, L. Wössmann (eds.), Handbook of Economics of Education, Volume 3, pp. 521–576, Amsterdam: Elsevier North-Holland.

  • Schweri, J., S. Mühlemann, Y. Pescio, B. Walther, S. C. Wolter, and L. Zürcher (2003), Kosten und Nutzen der Lehrlingsausbildung aus der Sicht Schweizer Betriebe. Rüegger, Chur-Zürich.

    Google Scholar 

  • Steedman, H. (2001) “Benchmarking Apprenticeship: UK and Continental Europe Compared”, London School of Economics, Centre for Economic Performance (CEP), Discussion Paper No. 0513, London.

  • Steedman, H. (2005), “Apprenticeship in Europe: Fading or Flourishing?”, London School of Economics, Centre for Economic Performance (CEP), Discussion Paper No. 0710, London.

  • Wolter, S.C., and J. Schweri (2002), “The Cost and Benefit of Apprenticeship Training: The Swiss Case”, Applied Economics Quarterly (Konjunkturpolitik), 48, pp. 347–367.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wooldridge, J.M. (2002a), Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wooldridge, J.M. (2002b), Introductory Econometrics. A Modern Approach, South-Western College Publishing, Thomson Learning, Mason, USA.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Additional information

This study was funded by the Swiss Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology (OPET) through its Leading House on the Economics of Education, Firm Behaviour and Training Policies. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OPET or the Leading House. Any remaining errors are the responsibility of the authors. The authors gratefully acknowledge the useful comments and suggestions of Uschi Backes-Gellner, Stefan Wolter and the members of the Advisory Board. Moreover, we thank Spyros Arvanitis, Peter Egger and Ulrich Kaiser for helpful comments and suggestions.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License ( ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hollenstein, H., Stucki, T. The ‘new firm paradigm’ and the provision of training: The impact of ICT, workplace organization and human capital. Swiss J Economics Statistics 148, 557–595 (2012).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • J2
  • L2
  • O3
  • M5


  • Firm-based training
  • Apprenticeship
  • ICT
  • Workplace organization
  • Human capital formation