Why Bosses Matter

Why Bosses Matter

By Edward Lazear, Kathryn Shaw, Christopher T. Stanton
August 2012Working Paper No. 3110

How and by how much do supervisors enhance worker productivity? Using a company-based data set on the productivity of technology-based services workers, supervisor effects are estimated and found to be large. Replacing a boss who is in the lower 10% of boss quality with one who is in the upper 10% of boss quality increases a team’s total output by more than would adding one worker to a nine member team. Workers assigned to better bosses are less likely to leave the firm. A separate normalization implies that the average boss is about 1.75 times as productive as the average worker.