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Brown bag seminar | Is this really kneaded? Identifying and eliminating potentially harmful forms of workplace control

Welcome to the next SITE brown bag seminar on 31st of October featuring Prof. Guido Friebel from Goethe University. Prof. Friebel will present his working paper entitled "Is this really kneaded? Identifying and eliminating potentially harmful forms of workplace control" at SSE.

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.

About the speaker

Guido Friebel is a professor of Human Resources at Goethe University in Frankfurt. [...] Click on "Expand" below to learn more!

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. 

Learn more about the speaker >>

Interested in attending the SITE brown bag seminar at SSE or online via Zoom?

The link to the seminar will be distributed by invitation only. If you are interested in attending the seminar – please contact site@hhs.se. Follow the instructions below:

  • Type the subject box with “Brown bag seminar *INSERT SEMINAR TITLE*”
  • Indicate your affiliation and field of interest
  • Please also indicate if you want to attend in person or online

For registered applicants, a Zoom link will be provided prior to the event via email with further instructions.

Photo: DG FotoStock, Shutterstock


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SITE Behavioral economics Social economics Brown bag