Worker sorting, work discipline and development

Project overview

Project lead: Sharon Buteau, Institute for Financial Management and Research

Start date: 1 September 2014

End date: 31 July 2018

Project webpage

Research Council project page

This project aims to better understand why large formal firms are typically more productive than small informal firms, with a focus on India. The methodology allows the productivity-enhancing role of the discipline and management systems in place in large-scale formal work environments to be separated from the selection of high effort and high ability employees into these stricter work environments.

The research consists of randomising workers into different work settings to eliminate the selection bias. In addition to the office versus home treatment and control groups seen in other studies, another randomly selected group of workers chose their work setting of preference. Comparing the first two groups, the project will evaluate, independent of characteristics, whether office-based work induces higher levels of worker productivity and/or faster increases in worker productivity.

It is expected that the long-term beneficiaries of the research outcome will be the underemployed, low-skilled population, including a significant number of women. It is this group who could potentially increase their livelihoods if policymakers could design better industrial policies to generate a larger number of employment opportunities for them. In addition, by understanding better the characteristics of employees and their productivity, this research aims to aid human resources and management decisions at the firm-level and better tailor jobs to specific segments of the population.