Managerial Quality and Productivity Dynamics

Achyuta Adhvaryu, University of Michigan, Good Business Lab, NBER, BREAD, William Davidson Institute, Anant Nyshadham, University of Michigan, Good Business Lab, NBER, BREAD, and Jorge Tamayo, Harvard University, Harvard Business School

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, we 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.We 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. We 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 suggest 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.