How Common are Bad Bosses?

37 Pages Posted: 26 May 2020

See all articles by Benjamin Artz

Benjamin Artz

University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh - College of Business

Amanda H. Goodall

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Andrew J. Oswald

University of Warwick - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: January 2020

Abstract

Bosses play a fundamental role in workplaces. Yet, almost nothing is known about an important and basic question in labor economics and industrial relations. Are the right people promoted to be supervisors, team leaders, and managers? The infamous Peter Principle claims that incompetent bosses are likely to be all around us, but is that true? This article provides the first statistically representative international estimates—taking comparable data on thirty‐five nations—of the extent to which employees have “bad bosses.” Using a natural measure, the article calculates that approximately 13 percent of Europe’s workers have a bad boss. Such bosses are most common in large organizations, in organizations without employee‐representation committees, in the transport sector, and where workers themselves have no supervisory responsibility. Last, the article offers a practical finding as a potential aid to human resource training and hiring. Contrary to media portrayals, bad bosses are rated least bad on “respect for workers” and worst on their ability to get the job done. Lack of competence, not lack of consideration, appears to be the key problem.

Suggested Citation

Artz, Benjamin and Goodall, Amanda H. and Oswald, Andrew J., How Common are Bad Bosses? (January 2020). Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Vol. 59, Issue 1, pp. 3-39, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3603458 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/irel.12247

Benjamin Artz (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh - College of Business ( email )

United States

Amanda H. Goodall

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Andrew J. Oswald

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom
523510 (Phone)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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