Discussion paper

DP11995 What Drives Differences in Management?

Partnering with the Census we implement a new survey of “structured” management practices in 32,000 US manufacturing plants. We find an enormous dispersion of management practices across plants, with 40% of this variation across plants within the same firm. This management variation accounts for about a fifth of the spread of productivity, a similar fraction as that accounted for by R&D, and twice as much as explained by IT. We find evidence for four “drivers” of management: competition, business environment, learning spillovers and human capital. Collectively, these drivers account for about a third of the dispersion of structured management practices.


Van Reenen, J, N Bloom, E Brynjolfsson, L Foster, R Jarmin, M Patnaik and I Saporta-Eksten (2017), ‘DP11995 What Drives Differences in Management?‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 11995. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp11995