Management Practices, Work-L Ife Balance, and Productivity: A Review of Some Recent Evidence

Posted: 29 Feb 2008

See all articles by Nicholas Bloom

Nicholas Bloom

Stanford University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

John Van Reenen

London School of Economics - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP); Stanford Graduate School of Business; Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: 2006

Abstract

Increasing product-market competition is believed to be a driving force behind higher productivity. However, even those critics of globalization who accept this argument claim that there is a hard trade-off because tougher competition comes at the price of reducing work-life balance (WLB). Optimists, by contrast, argue that competition can spur better WLB practices and therefore higher productivity, so there is a 'win-win' situation. To address this issue we use an innovative survey tool to collect the first international data on management practices and WLB practices, surveying 732 medium-sized manufacturing firms in the USA, France, Germany, and the UK. We find that the USA has the best management practices but the worst work-life balance. When we look within countries, however, we reject the pessimistic 'trade-off' model. First, WLB outcomes are significantly associated with better management, so that well-run firms are both more productive and offer better conditions for their employees. Second, tougher competition increases average management quality but does not negatively affect employees' working environment. As with many other studies, better WLB practices are associated with significantly higher productivity. This relationship disappears, however, after controlling for the overall quality of management.

Suggested Citation

Bloom, Nicholas and Van Reenen, John Michael, Management Practices, Work-L Ife Balance, and Productivity: A Review of Some Recent Evidence ( 2006). Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Vol. 22, Issue 4, pp. 457-482, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1096843 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxrep/grj027

Nicholas Bloom (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

Landau Economics Building, Room 231
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States
650-725-7836 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://economics.stanford.edu/faculty/bloom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

John Michael Van Reenen

London School of Economics - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
+44 20 7955 6976 (Phone)
+44 20 7955 6848 (Fax)

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) ( email )

7 Ridgmount Street
London, WC1E 7AE
United Kingdom
+44 20 7240 6740 (Phone)
+44 20 7240 6136 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
625
PlumX Metrics