Management and Shocks to Worker Productivity
The assignment of workers to tasks is an important feature of the organization of production within firms. We study how task allocation across workers changes in response to productivity shocks. Pairing hourly productivity data from a ready-made garments firm with granular data on exposure to particulate matter pollution, we show that productivity suffers as a result of pollution shocks; this effect is heterogeneous across workers and tasks. Managers respond by reassigning workers to tasks in which they perform better on average during shocks. This response is larger for managers who we identify, via survey-based measurement, as exhibiting greater managerial attention, and these same managers are also the ones who are most able to mitigate resulting productivity declines.
We thank Hunt Allcott, Manuela Angelucci, Nick Bloom, Dave Donaldson, Pascaline Dupas, Josh Graff Zivin, Ben Jones, Rocco Macchiavello, Aprajit Mahajan, Grant Miller, Melanie Morten, Dilip Mookherjee, Antoinette Schoar, John Strauss, Tavneet Suri, Chris Woodruff, Dean Yang, and seminar participants at USC, Stanford, Michigan, UIUC, Penn, Brown, UCSD, BC, BREAD, PEDL, Warwick, and the NBER for comments and suggestions. We are incredibly thankful to Anant Ahuja, Chitra Ramdas, Shridatta Veera, Manju Rajesh, Raghuram Nayaka, Sudhakar Bheemarao, Paul Ouseph, and Subhash Tiwari for their coordination, enthusiasm, support, and guidance. This research has benefited from support by the Private Enterprise Development in Low-Income Countries (PEDL) initiative. Thanks to Tushar Bharati and Robert Fletcher for valuable research assistance. Adhvaryu gratefully acknowledges funding from the NIH/NICHD (5K01HD071949). All errors are our own. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.