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Truckers & Turnover Project

Trucks parked at a gas station

The Truckers & Turnover Project is a multi-year study in the field of “behavioral personnel economics” conducted by a team of University of Minnesota, Morris faculty and students, and faculty at other institutions, in cooperation with several motor carriers.

The cooperating firms operate in the "truckload" (TL) segment of the trucking industry. Long haul TL trucking is a high-turnover occupation, and thousands of people train for this job every year, try it out, and leave, while relatively few stay on.

Project researchers have worked with data from study firms along with new data collected by the project to identify the factors that predict productivity, retention, crash risk, and other on-the-job outcomes for truckers.

A distinctive part of the project has been its use of behavioral economic field experiments conducted by the researchers at a company training site with trainee truckers who were learning how to handle a big rig for the first time. A second part of the project has been a large statistical case study based on the operational and human resource data from participating firms. More recently the project has begun to focus on the relationship between medical conditions and individual trucker outcomes.

The project implements an idea that Dr. Burks, the organizer, has been urging for several years: that economists who do behavioral economic field experiments should work together with academics specializing in the manner encouraged by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation “industry studies” program, who focus on gathering new data and doing targeted analyses of individual industries.

Project History

Initial work with the first cooperating firm began in 2002. The current larger-scale project has been under way since 2005, and is expected to continue for several more years as of 2014.