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Substitution and complementarity between managers and subordinates: Evidence from British football


  • Bridgewater, Sue
  • Kahn, Lawrence M.
  • Goodall, Amanda H.


We use data on British football managers and teams over the 1994-2007 period to study substitution and complementarity between leaders and subordinates. We find for the Premier League (the highest level of competition) that, other things being equal, managers who themselves played at a higher level raise the productivity of less-skilled teams by more than that of highly skilled teams. This is consistent with the hypothesis that one function of a top manager is to communicate to subordinates the skills needed to succeed, since less skilled players have more to learn. However, we also find that managers with more accumulated professional managing experience raise the productivity of talented players by more than that of less-talented players. This is consistent with the hypothesis that a further function of successful managers in high-performance workplaces is to manage the egos of elite workers. Such a function is potentially more important the more accomplished the workers are-as indicated, in our data, by teams with greater payrolls.

Suggested Citation

  • Bridgewater, Sue & Kahn, Lawrence M. & Goodall, Amanda H., 2011. "Substitution and complementarity between managers and subordinates: Evidence from British football," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 275-286, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:18:y:2011:i:3:p:275-286

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. van Ours, Jan C & Van Tuijl, Martin, 2014. "In-season head-coach dismissals and the performance of professional football teams," CEPR Discussion Papers 10191, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Edward P. Lazear & Kathryn L. Shaw & Christopher T. Stanton, 2015. "The Value of Bosses," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(4), pages 823-861.
    3. Jones, Calvin & Jordan, Declan, 2014. "Competitiveness in Soccer Leagues: An ordinal time series approach with evidence from the Premier League 1993 to 2014," MPRA Paper 61193, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Dec 2014.
    4. Jan C. van Ours & Martin A. van Tuijl, 2016. "In-Season Head-Coach Dismissals And The Performance Of Professional Football Teams," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(1), pages 591-604, January.
    5. Goodall, Amanda H., 2012. "A Theory of Expert Leadership," IZA Discussion Papers 6566, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Berlinschi, Ruxanda & Schokkaert, Jeroen & Swinnen, Johan, 2013. "When drains and gains coincide: Migration and international football performance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 1-14.
    7. Owan, Hideo & Takahashi, Shingo & Tsuru, Tsuyoshi & Uehara, Katsuhito, 2014. "Finding Good Managers: An Econometric Case Study of a Large Japanese Auto Dealership," Discussion Paper Series 609, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    8. Thomas (T.L.P.R.) Peeters & Stefan Szymanski & Marko Terviö, 2017. "The inefficient advantage of experience in the market for football managers," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 17-116/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
    9. Stefan Szymanski, 2014. "Insolvency in English football," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Professional Football, chapter 7, pages 100-116 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Lazear, Edward P., 2012. "Leadership: A personnel economics approach," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 92-101.

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