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

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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Nick Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2006. "Management Practices, Work--L ife Balance, and Productivity: A Review of Some Recent Evidence," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(4), pages 457-482, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:22:y:2006:i:4:p:457-482
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    Cited by:

    1. Adame, Consolación & Caplliure, Eva-María & Miquel, María-José, 2016. "Work–life balance and firms: A matter of women?," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 1379-1383.
    2. Leeves, Gareth.D. & Herbert, Ric., 2014. "Gender differences in social capital investment: Theory and evidence," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 377-385.
    3. Viete, Steffen & Erdsiek, Daniel, 2015. "Mobile information and communication technologies, flexible work organization and labor productivity: Firm-level evidence," ZEW Discussion Papers 15-087, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    4. 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.
    5. Beckmann, Michael, 2016. "Self-managed working time and firm performance: Microeconometric evidence," Working papers 2016/01, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    6. 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).
    7. John S. Heywood & Laurie A. Miller, 2015. "Schedule Flexibility, Family Friendly Policies and Absence," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 83(6), pages 652-675, December.
    8. 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.
    9. Adame-Sánchez, Consolación & González-Cruz, Tomás F. & Martínez-Fuentes, Clara, 2016. "Do firms implement work–life balance policies to benefit their workers or themselves?," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 5519-5523.
    10. Lilian DE MENEZES, "undated". "Can a Gift-Exchange Model Explain a Link Between Flexible Working Arrangements and Organizational Performance?," EcoMod2010 259600043, EcoMod.
    11. Darcy, Colette & McCarthy, Alma & Hill, Jimmy & Grady, Geraldine, 2012. "Work–life balance: One size fits all? An exploratory analysis of the differential effects of career stage," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 111-120.
    12. Beckmann, Michael, 2016. "Self-managed working time and firm performance: Microeconometric evidence," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145623, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    13. Winder Katie L, 2009. "Flexible Scheduling and the Gender Wage Gap," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-27, July.
    14. Stefan Marth, 2015. "How strong is the correlation between unemployment and growth really? The persistence of Okun's Law and how to weaken it," WWWforEurope Policy Paper series 23, WWWforEurope.
    15. Richard P.C. Brown & Gareth Leeves & Nichola Kitson & Prabha Prayaga, 2015. "Give and Take or Give and Give: Charitable Giving in Migrant Households," Discussion Papers Series 547, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    16. Gerten, Elisa & Beckmann, Michael & Bellmann, Lutz, 2018. "Controlling working crowds: The impact of digitalization on worker autonomy and monitoring across hierarchical levels," Working papers 2018/09, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    17. Lilian DE MENEZES & Stephen WOOD & Melina DRITSAKI, "undated". "Family-friendly management in Britain under New Labour: were there significant changes between 1998 and 2004?," EcoMod2009 21500024, EcoMod.

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