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The Value of Bosses


  • Edward P. Lazear
  • Kathryn L. Shaw
  • Christopher T. Stanton


How and by how much do supervisors enhance worker productivity? Using a company-based data set on the productivity of technology-based services workers, supervisor effects are estimated and found to be large. Replacing a boss who is in the lower 10% of boss quality with one who is in the upper 10% of boss quality increases a team's total output by more than would adding one worker to a nine member team. Workers assigned to better bosses are less likely to leave the firm. A separate normalization implies that the average boss is about 1.75 times as productive as the average worker.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward P. Lazear & Kathryn L. Shaw & Christopher T. Stanton, 2012. "The Value of Bosses," NBER Working Papers 18317, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18317
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Marie Claire Villeval, 2016. "Can lab experiments help design personnel policies?," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 318-318, November.
    2. Börsch-Supan, Axel & Weiss, Matthias, 2016. "Productivity and age: Evidence from work teams at the assembly line," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 7(C), pages 30-42.
    3. Stephan HUMPERT, 2016. "What Workers Want: Job Satisfaction In The U.S," Management Research and Practice, Research Centre in Public Administration and Public Services, Bucharest, Romania, vol. 8(1), pages 39-45, March.
    4. David J. Deming, 2015. "The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 21473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Nicola Lacetera & Bradley J. Larsen & Devin G. Pope & Justin R. Sydnor, 2016. "Bid Takers or Market Makers? The Effect of Auctioneers on Auction Outcome," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 195-229, November.
    6. 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.
    7. Bloom, Nicholas & Sadun, Raffaella & Lemos, Renata & Scur, Daniela & Van Reenen, John, 2014. "The new empirical economics of management," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58009, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    8. Lucifora, Claudio & Vigani, Daria, 2016. "What If Your Boss Is a Woman? Work Organization, Work-Life Balance and Gender Discrimination at the Workplace," IZA Discussion Papers 9737, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Mironov, Maxim, 2015. "Should one hire a corrupt CEO in a corrupt country?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(1), pages 29-42.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs

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