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The impact of managerial practices on employee productivity: a field experiment with airline captains

Gosnell, Greer K., List, John A. and Metcalfe, Robert D. (2019) The impact of managerial practices on employee productivity: a field experiment with airline captains. Journal of Political Economy. ISSN 0022-3808

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Identification Number: 10.1086/705375


Increasing evidence indicates the importance of management in determining firms’ productivity. Yet, causal evidence regarding the effectiveness of management practices is scarce, especially for high-skilled workers in the developed world. In an eightmonth field experiment measuring the productivity of captains in the commercial aviation sector, we test four distinct management practices: (i) performance monitoring; (ii) performance feedback; (iii) target setting; and (iv) prosocial incentives. We find that these management practices—particularly performance monitoring and target setting—significantly increase captains’ productivity with respect to the targeted fuel-saving dimensions. We identify positive spillovers of the tested management practices on job satisfaction and carbon dioxide emissions, and captains overwhelmingly express desire for deeper managerial engagement. Both the implementation and the results of the study reveal an uncharted opportunity for management researchers to delve into the black box of firms and rigorously examine the determinants of productivity amongst skilled labor.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2019 University of Chicago Press
Divisions: Grantham Research Institute
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D0 - General > D01 - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J3 - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs > J30 - General
Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics > Q5 - Environmental Economics > Q50 - General
R - Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics > R4 - Transportation Systems > R40 - General
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2019 15:45
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2020 00:29

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