Brown bag seminar | Is this really kneaded? Identifying and eliminating potentially harmful forms of workplace control
Working paper title: Is this really kneaded? Identifying and eliminating potentially harmful forms of workplace control
By: Guido Friebel, Matthias Heinz, Mitchell Hoffman, Tobias Kretschmer & Nick Zubanov
In a large German bakery chain, many workers report negative perceptions of monitoring via checklists. We survey workers and managers about the value and time costs to all in-store checklists, leading the firm to randomly remove two of the most perceivedly time-consuming and low-value checklists in half of stores. Sales increase by 2-3% and store manager attrition substantially decreases. Mystery shopping indicates this occurs without a rise in workplace problems. Before random assignment, regional managers predict whether the treatment would be effective for each store they oversee. Ex post, beneficial effects of checklist removal are fully concentrated in stores where regional managers predict the treatment will be effective, reflecting substantial heterogeneity in returns that is well-understood by these upper managers. Effects of checklist removal do not appear to come from workers having more time for production, but rather due to improvements in employee trust and commitment. Following the RCT, the firm implemented firmwide reductions in monitoring, eliminating a checklist regarded as demeaning, but keeping a checklist that helps coordinate production.
Read the working paper
About the speaker
Prof. Friebel main research field is organizational and personnel economics. He carry out randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with and within firms, with a view to increase both productivity and worker welfare and to test important theories. He also analyze observational career and promotion data and write models about careers, communication and talent management. His other main interest is how institutions shape the accumulation and allocation of human capital, focusing on problems of families, gender, and migration.
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