Managerial Quality and Productivity Dynamics

Working Paper
Published on 7 January 2021


Do productivity and managerial quality vary within the firm? If so which managerial traits and practices matter most for team productivity? Combining granular garment production data with survey data on managers across 120 production lines in India, Adhvaryu et al. (2021) document substantial productivity dispersion both across teams producing overlapping products and within team over the course of production runs, and structurally link this variation to a comprehensive assessment of supervisor quality. The authors find that factors related to managerial attention and control are the most important for enabling line productivity, both more impactful than traditionally emphasized dimensions like cognitive skills and tenure. They document that one mechanism by which specific managerial practices contribute to productivity is by way of enabling faster learning-by-doing. In-sample pay patterns suggests potential net gains from screening for or training in less readily measured dimensions of managerial quality, as pass-through of productivity contributions to pay is incomplete.


Achyuta Adhvaryu

University of Michigan

Anant Nyshadham

University of Michigan

Jorge Tamayo

Harvard University