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The Contingent Effect of Management Practices

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  • Blader, Steven
  • Gartenberg, Claudine
  • Prat, Andrea

Abstract

This paper investigates how the success of a management practice depends on the nature of the long-term relationship between the firm and its employees. A large US transportation company is in the process of fitting its trucks with an electronic on-board recorder (EOBR), which provide drivers with information on their driving performance. In this setting, a natural question is whether the optimal managerial practice consists of: (1) Letting each driver know his or her individual performance only; or (2) Also providing drivers with information about their ranking with respect to other drivers. The company is also in the first phase of a multi-year "lean-management journey", which corresponds to an overhaul of the relational contract with its employees. This phase focuses exclusively on changing employee values, mainly toward a greater emphasis on teamwork and empowerment. The main result of our randomized experiment is that (2) leads to better performance than (1) in a particular site if and only if the site has not yet received the values intervention, and worse performance if it has. The result is consistent with the presence of a conflict between competition-based managerial practices and a cooperation-based relational contract. More broadly, it highlights the role of intangible relational factors in determining the optimal set of managerial practices.

Suggested Citation

  • Blader, Steven & Gartenberg, Claudine & Prat, Andrea, 2016. "The Contingent Effect of Management Practices," CEPR Discussion Papers 11057, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11057
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Dobrescu, Isabella & Faravelli, Marco & Megalokonomou, Rigissa & Motta, Alberto, 2019. "Rank Incentives and Social Learning: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 12437, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Nicholas Bloom & Erik Brynjolfsson & Lucia Foster & Ron Jarmin & Megha Patnaik & Itay Saporta-Eksten & John Van Reenen, 2019. "What Drives Differences in Management Practices?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(5), pages 1648-1683, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    management; relational contracts; relative ranking;

    JEL classification:

    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations

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