Preserving job matches during a pandemic: firm-level evidence on the role of government aid (submitted)
with M. Bennedsen, B. Larsen and I. Schmutte

Covered on: The Economist, VoxEU

[COVID Economics, Issue 27, 9 June 2020]

We analyze the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and government policies on firms’ aid take-up, layoff and furlough decisions. We collect new survey data for 10,642 small, medium and large Danish firms, and match to government records of all aid-supported furloughed workers during the pandemic as well as administrative accounting data. This is the first representative sample of firms reporting the pandemic’s impact on their revenue and labor choices, showing a steep decline in revenue and a strong reported effect of labor aid take-up on lower job separations. Relative to a normal year, 30 percent more firms have experienced revenue declines. Comparing firms’ actual layoff and furlough decisions to their reported counterfactual decisions in the absence of aid, we estimate 81,000 fewer workers were laid off and 285,000 workers were furloughed. Our results suggest the aid policy was effective in preserving job matches at the start of the pandemic.

Personnel Management and School Productivity: evidence from India (submitted)
with R. Lemos and K. Muralidharan

[Online appendix]

This paper uses new data to study school management and productivity in India. We report four main results. First, management quality in public schools is low, and ~2σ below high-income countries with comparable data. Second, private schools have higher management quality, driven by much stronger people management. Third, people management quality is correlated with both independent measures of teaching practice, as well as school productivity measured by student value added. Fourth, private school teacher pay is positively correlated with teacher effectiveness, and better-managed private schools are more likely to retain more effective teachers. Neither pattern is seen in public schools.

Organizational capacity and firm profitability: evidence from multinationals [draft available upon request]
with Kat Bilicka

This paper analyses the effect of firm’s organizational capacity on reported profitability of multinational enterprises (MNEs). Better organizational practices improve productivity and, in principle, increase potential taxable profits of firms. However, higher adoption of these practices may also enable more efficient re-allocation of profits across tax jurisdictions. We find that subsidiaries of MNEs located in high tax countries report significantly lower profits and have higher incidence of bunching around zero returns on assets, if they have better organizational practices. This is especially true for more tax-aggressive MNEs. Using an event study design, we find that firms with better practices are more responsive to corporate tax rate changes. These responses are also driven by more tax aggressive MNEs. These patterns are consistent with organizational capacity partially driving profit shifting behavior.

The ties that bind: implicit contracts and the adoption of management technology in the firm
with R. Lemos

Covered on: World Bank’s Development Impact blog, The Economist, LSE Business Review, VoxDev

Awarded Accessit Best Paper at IOEA 2018.
[project website] [CEPR Discussion Paper]

We investigate how implicit contracts between firm managers and employees are linked to the adoption of productivity-enhancing organizational practices. We collect new data on ownership successions and show the first causal evidence that maintaining family control leads to lower adoption of managerial best practices. We use gender composition of the outgoing CEO’s children as identifying variation at the succession point. We explore firm “reputation costs” as a novel mechanism constraining investment in management, and build a new proxy using data on eponymy — firms named after the family name. We find suggestive evidence that implicit contracts matter for management adoption.

Measuring and explaining management in schools: New approaches using public data
with C. Leaver and R. Lemos

[CEPR Discussion Paper]

Why do some students learn more in some schools than others? One consideration receiving growing attention is school management. To study this, researchers need to be able to measure school management accurately and cheaply at scale, and also explain any observed relationship between school management and student learning. This paper introduces a new approach to measurement using existing public data, and applies it to build a management index covering 15,000 schools across 65 countries, and another index covering nearly all public schools in Brazil. Both indices show a strong, positive relationship between school management and student learning. The paper then develops a simple model that formalizes the intuition that strong management practices might be driving learning gains via incentive and selection effects among teachers, students and parents. The paper shows that the predictions of this model hold in public data for Latin America, and draws out implications for policy.


Golden skirts or dark horses: female CEOs in India
with Namrata Kala

Firms and mental health
with Morten Bennedsen, Margarita Tsoutsoura and Daniel Wolfenzon

School management and principal training: evidence from Puerto Rico
with Gustavo Bobonis and Marco Gonzales-Navarro

Entrepreneurial Manufacturers in Emerging Economies
with Angela Aristidou and Sarah Wolfolds

Natural Laws of Management
with Scott Ohlmacher and “world MOPS” leaders

Effective firm responses to major shocks: the role of management practices
with Morten Bennedsen and Ian Schmutte

Financial Management and School Performance: evidence from Mozambique
with Sandra Sequeira and Guo Xu

Managers of tomorrow: same as yesterday?
with Sebastian Steffen

I have a research program with Ian Schmutte on exploring management and personnel questions with the Brazilian WMS and RAIS data. Reach out if you are interested in these topics.


Developing management: an expanded evaluation tool for developing countries (RISE Working Paper 7) [project website] [slides]
with R. Lemos

Coverage: World Bank blog

There is striking evidence showing a large tail of badly managed schools and hospitals in developing countries across several management areas such as operations management, performance monitoring, target setting and people management. But where exactly, along the process of setting their management structures, are these organizations failing? This paper presents new evidence from an expanded survey tool based on the World Management Survey instrument. We collect detailed data using face-to-face interviews in settings where weak management practices prevail and observe more variation in the left tail of the distribution. Using this data, we explore three main “activities” within each management area: (1) process implementation, (2) process usage, (3) process monitoring efficiency and frequency. We have collected data with schools in India and Mexico and are working with teams surveying schools in Colombia and hospitals in China and India.