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Management Practices, Work--L ife Balance, and Productivity: A Review of Some Recent Evidence

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  • Nick Bloom
  • John Van Reenen

Abstract

Increasing product-market competition is believed to be a driving force behind higher productivity. However, even those critics of globalization who accept this argument claim that there is a hard trade-off because tougher competition comes at the price of reducing work--life balance (WLB). Optimists, by contrast, argue that competition can spur better WLB practices and therefore higher productivity, so there is a 'win--win' situation. To address this issue we use an innovative survey tool to collect the first international data on management practices and WLB practices , surveying 732 medium-sized manufacturing firms in the USA, France, Germany, and the UK. We find that the USA has the best management practices but the worst work--life balance. When we look within countries, however, we reject the pessimistic 'trade-off' model. First, WLB outcomes are significantly associated with better management, so that well-run firms are both more productive and offer better conditions for their employees. Second, tougher competition increases average management quality but does not negatively affect employees' working environment. As with many other studies, better WLB practices are associated with significantly higher productivity. This relationship disappears, however, after controlling for the overall quality of management. Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Oxford Review of Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 22 (2006)
Issue (Month): 4 (Winter)
Pages: 457-482

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Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:22:y:2006:i:4:p:457-482

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Web page: http://oxrep.oupjournals.org/

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Cited by:
  1. MORIKAWA Masayuki, 2010. "Insecurity of Employment and Work-Life Balance: From the viewpoint of compensating wage differentials," Discussion papers 10052, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
  2. Houben, Henriette & Maiterth, Ralf, 2009. "Inheritance tax-exempt transfer of German businesses: Imperative or unjustified subsidy? An empirical analysis," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 95, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
  3. Cristini, Annalisa & Pozzoli, Dario, 2008. "New Workplace Practices and Firm Performance: A Comparative Study of Italy and Britain," Working Papers 08-9, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
  4. Leeves, Gareth.D. & Herbert, Ric., 2014. "Gender differences in social capital investment: Theory and evidence," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 377-385.

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