Personnel Management and School Productivity: evidence from India (conditionally accepted at the Economic Journal)
with R. Lemos and K. Muralidharan

[Online appendix] [NBER WP 28336]

This paper uses new data to study school management and productivity in India. We report four main results. First, management quality in public schools is low, and ~2σ below high-income countries with comparable data. Second, private schools have higher management quality, driven by much stronger people management. Third, people management quality is correlated with both independent measures of teaching practice, as well as school productivity measured by student value added. Fourth, private school teacher pay is positively correlated with teacher effectiveness, and better-managed private schools are more likely to retain more effective teachers. Neither pattern is seen in public schools.

The effect of preserving job matches during a crisis
, 2023. Labour Economics, 84
with M. Bennedsen, B. Larsen and I. Schmutte
[online appendix] [WP version]

Covered on: The Economist, VoxEU
First draft: COVID Economics, Issue 27, 9 June 2020

It is generally difficult to measure the importance of preserving worker-firm relationships, particularly for low-wage jobs that involve general skills. The COVID-19 pandemic led to the sudden and seemingly temporary disruption of millions of otherwise productive employment relationships around the world. Using novel administrative and survey data from Denmark, we study a policy where firms paid up to 25% of wages to furlough instead of firing workers. We find that aid-taking firms furloughed about 24pp more workers, a large share of whom would have otherwise been laid off, and this had a positive impact on subsequent firm survival, employment growth and sales. Further, we find firms derive value from maintaining ties to low-wage and blue collar workers and that preserving those matches is beneficial to firms, suggesting policies that preserve job matches may help speed-up recovery.

Revisiting the World Management Survey in Strategy: Applications to Theory and Replication, 2023. Strategy Science
with S. Wolfolds

[WP version][supplemental materials]

The academic field of strategy has a strong history of developing theories and frameworks to explain real-world phenomena, but a relatively younger empirical literature testing these theories. Partly due to the nature of questions in strategic management, scholars have often relied on collecting their own data or using specialized, and often expensive, proprietary data. This limits the possibility of replication exercises, which are a key step to refining and reinforcing the theories that are most supported in practice. To support this effort, we revisit the World Management Survey (WMS): a cross-country, cross-industry survey dataset with over 20,000 observations at the establishment-level that is collected through a rigorous and well-documented process and made free and accessible to researchers. While it is well-cited in the strategy literature, we propose it is underused and better exposure to this data’s offerings has the potential to add significant value to the field.

Building a productive workforce: the role of management practices, 2021. Management Science, 67(12)
with C. Cornwell and I. Schmutte

Covered on: IDE Inclusive Innovation, MIT Ideas made to matter, Business Insider
[CEPR Discussion Paper][CEP Discussion Paper]
[Replication repository][Online Appendix]

In an influential study, Bender et al (2018) document consistent relationships between management practices, productivity, and workforce composition using administrative data from German firms matched to ratings of their practices from the World Management Survey. We replicate and extend their analysis using comparable data from Brazil. The main conclusions from their study are supported in ours, strengthening the view that more structured practices affect organizational performance through workforce selection across different institutional settings. However, we find more structured management practices are linked to greater wage inequality in Brazil, relative to greater wage compression in Germany, suggesting that some of the consequences of adopting structured practices are tied to the local context.

The World Management Survey at 18: lessons and the way forward, 2021. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 37(2)
with N Bloom, R Lemos, R Sadun and J Van Reenen

[NBER Working Paper 28524]

Understanding how differences in management “best practices’’ affect organizational outcomes has been a focus of both theoretical and empirical work in the fields of management, sociology, economics and public policy. The World Management Survey (WMS) project was born almost two decades ago with the main goal of developing a new systematic measure of management practices being used in organisations. The WMS has contributed to a body of knowledge around how managerial structures, not just managerial talent, relates to organizational performance. Over 18 years of research, a set of consistent patterns have emerged and spurred new questions. We will present a brief overview of what we have learned in terms of measuring and understanding management practices and condense the implications of these findings for policy. We end with an outline of what we see as the path forward for both research and policy implications of this research programme.

Also see: Management Practices and Public Policy: An Overview (with S. Quinn)

International Data on Measuring Management Practices, 2016. American Economic Association – Papers & Proceedings
with N Bloom, R Lemos, R Sadun and J Van Reenen

Rapid advances in computer power and increased openness of national statistical agencies have led to unprecedented availability of large datasets. Consider three types of firm datasets. First, governments collect administrative data on firms: information on jobs, investment and output has long been collected to calculate national, industrial and regional statistics. Second, there has been an explosion of Big Data – various forms of data typically created for business purposes. Products like ORBIS contain over 50 million firms from almost every country in the world and can be used to address many questions. Another example is Compustat, which contains extensive data for about 6,000 listed US firms but excludes the other 99% of private firms. We focus on a third type of international firm data, which is collected from surveys. In an age of rich administrative and Big Data why bother with such surveys?

The New Empirical Economics of Management, 2014. Journal of the European Economic Association, 12(4)
with N Bloom, R Lemos, R Sadun and J Van Reenen

Over the last decade the World Management Survey (WMS) has collected firm-level management practices data across multiple sectors and countries. We developed the survey to try to explain the large and persistent total factor productivity (TFP) differences across firms and countries. This review paper discusses what has been learned empirically and theoretically from the WMS and other recent work on management practices. Our preliminary results suggest that about a quarter of cross-country and within-country TFP gaps can be accounted for by management practices. Management seems to matter both qualitatively and quantitatively for performance at the level of the firm and the nation. Competition, governance, human capital, and informational frictions help account for the variation in management. We make some suggestions for both policy and future research.