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The Impact of Management Practices on Employee Productivity: A Field Experiment with Airline Captains

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  • Greer K. Gosnell
  • John A. List
  • Robert D. Metcalfe

Abstract

Increasing evidence indicates the importance of management in determining firms' productivity. Yet causal evidence regarding the effectiveness of management practices is scarce, especially for skilled labor in the developed world. In a field experiment measuring commercial airline captains’ productivity, we test four distinct management practices: performance monitoring, performance feedback, target setting, and prosocial incentives. These practices—particularly monitoring and target setting—significantly increase captains' productivity on the targeted fuel-saving dimensions, with positive spillovers on job satisfaction and CO2 emissions. The study reveals an uncharted research opportunity to delve into the black box of firms to examine the determinants of productivity among skilled labor.

Suggested Citation

  • Greer K. Gosnell & John A. List & Robert D. Metcalfe, 2020. "The Impact of Management Practices on Employee Productivity: A Field Experiment with Airline Captains," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 128(4), pages 1195-1233.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/705375
    DOI: 10.1086/705375
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General
    • R40 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - General

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