May 11, 2009

Management economics in a large UK retailer

We study the link between middle-management ability and shop labour productivity using data from 245 shops of a UK nationwide retailer.

The company scores six broad areas of management practice, the most important of which turns out to be "commercial awareness", where able managers achieve 17% higher labour productivity in their shops compared to less able ones. We further show that the managers’ incentive pay scheme, required to encourage them to exert their ability in full, is implicitly an insurance one, with managers taking a share in deviations of actual sales from expected. At the same time, abler managers do not receive higher pay all else equal, which implies that middle management ability is not fully tradeable.


Nick Zubanov
W.S. Siebert

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