Training, productivity, and upgrading in the Bangladesh apparel sector

Project overview

Project lead: Christopher Woodruff, University of Warwick

Start date: 2 February 2012

End date: 28 February 2015

Project webpage

This project examined the effect of female managers on firm-level productivity in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh. Around 85 percent of machine operators in the sector are female, but managers are overwhelmingly male. The study evaluates, through a Randomized Control Trial, a Female Supervisor Training Program supported by the German overseas aid agency (GIZ) and developed with industry stakeholders. Mid-level management training is widely seen as needed in the Bangladeshi RMG sector, and thus the training program was targeted to sector-specific needs.

The research project provided supervisor training to 384 female and 96 male machine operators from 96 factories, with the aim of understanding the effect of both gender and training on a variety of outcomes. The first two outcomes were rates of trainee promotion and migration to other factories. Conditional on promotion, the project examined the management style of line supervisors, supervisee job satisfaction, and productivity –  including output, absenteeism and product quality. There is a potentially large demand for training in the sector, but also concerns among factory owners that trainees will leave the factory after completing training. The issue of migration has profound effects on demand for training and for those who fund the training.