Management and Shocks to Worker Productivity

Working Paper
Published on 1 May 2019


The assignment of workers to tasks is an important feature of the organization of production within firms. Adhvaryu, Kala and Nyshadham (2017) study how task allocation across workers changes in response to productivity shocks. Pairing hourly productivity data from a ready-made garments firm with granular data on exposure to particulate matter pollution, they show that productivity suffers as a result of pollution shocks; this effect is heterogeneous across workers and tasks. Managers respond by reassigning workers to tasks in which they perform better on average during shocks. This response is larger for managers who we identify, via survey-based measurement, as exhibiting greater managerial attention, and these same managers are also the ones who are most able to mitigate resulting productivity declines.


Achyuta Adhvaryu

University of Michigan

Namrata Kala

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Anant Nyshadham

University of Michigan