The Impact of Management Practices on Employee Productivity: A Field Experiment with Airline Captains
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.
Greer K. Gosnell, John A. List, and Robert D. Metcalfe. Journal of Political Economy, Volume 128, Number 4, April 2020.