Research paper:

School management and productivity in public sector: evidence from Indian schools

with Renata Lemos and Karthik Muralidharan

Slides and paper coming soon.


This paper uses two new datasets to study management and productivity in primary schools in India. We report five main sets of results. First, management quality in public schools is low on average, but there is meaningful variation in management quality across public schools which is correlated with both independent measures of teaching practice, as well as measures of student value added. Second, find substantially higher management scores in private schools, and this advantage is mainly driven by differences in people management as opposed to operations management. Third, we find that the private school advantage over public schools in student value-added is largely accounted for by differences in people management practices. Fourth, we find that the private-school advantage in measures of people management is consistent with independent measures of personnel policy. Specifically, private school teacher pay is positively correlated with measures of teacher value-added, and private schools are more likely to retain teachers with higher value-addition and let go teachers with lower value-addition. Neither pattern is seen in public schools. Finally, measures of school-management quality are more correlated with measures of effective teacher practice in public schools than in private schools. These results suggest that once a school is able to optimize their selection and retention practices – that is, get their personnel policy right – continuous oversight of what happens in the classroom is less important. When this channel is shut down (as is the case in public schools), school management may be more important.