Hrm and Employee Productivity

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NBER WORKING PAPER SERIES

HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT AND PRODUCTIVITY Nicholas Bloom John Van Reenen Working Paper 16019 http://www.nber.org/papers/w16019

NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138 May 2010

This paper has been prepared for a chapter in the Handbook of Labor Economics Volume IV edited by David Card and Orley Ashenfelter. We would like to thank the Economic and Social Research Council for their financial support through the Center for Economic Performance. This survey draws substantially on joint work with Daron Acemoglu, Philippe Aghion, Eve Caroli, Luis Garicano, Christos Genakos, Claire Lelarge, Ralf Martin, Raffaella Sadun and Fabrizio Zilibotti. We would like to thank Orley Ashenfelter, Oriana Bandiera, Alex Bryson, David Card, Edward Lazear, Paul Oyer, John Roberts, Kathy Shaw and participants in conferences in Berkeley and the LSE for helpful comments. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research. © 2010 by Nicholas Bloom and John Van Reenen. All rights reserved. Short sections of text, not to exceed two paragraphs, may be quoted without explicit permission provided that full credit, including © notice, is given to the source.

Human Resource Management and Productivity Nicholas Bloom and John Van Reenen NBER Working Paper No. 16019 May 2010 JEL No. L2,M2,O32,O33 ABSTRACT In this handbook of labor economics chapter we examine the relationship between Human Resource Management (HRM) and productivity. HRM includes incentive pay (individual and group) as well as many non-pay aspects of the employment relationship such as matching (hiring and firing) and work organization (e.g. teams, autonomy). We place HRM more generally within the literature on management practices and productivity. We start with some facts on levels and trends of both HRM and productivity and the main economic theories of HRM. We look at some of the determinants of HRM – risk, competition, ownership and regulation. The largest section analyses the impact of HRM on productivity emphasizing issues of methodology, data and results (from micro-econometric studies). We conclude briefly with suggestions of avenues for future frontier work.

Nicholas Bloom Stanford University Department of Economics 579 Serra Mall Stanford, CA 94305-6072 and NBER nbloom@stanford.edu John Van Reenen Department of Economics London School of Economics Centre for Economic Performance Houghton Street London WC2A 2AE United Kindom and NBER j.vanreenen@lse.ac.uk

1. Introduction
Traditionally, labor economics focused on the labor market rather than looking inside the “black box” of firms. Industrial sociologists and psychologists made the running in Human Resource Management (HRM). This has changed dramatically in last two decades. Human Resource Management (HRM) is now a major field in labor economics. The hallmark of this work is to use standard economic tools applied to the special circumstances of managing employees within companies. HRM economics has a major effect on the world through teaching in business schools, and ultimately what gets practiced in many organizations.

HRM covers a wide range of activities. The main area of study we will focus on will be incentives and work organization. Incentives include remuneration systems (e.g. individuals or group

incentive/contingent pay) and also the system of appraisal, promotion and career advancement. By work organization we mean the distribution of decision rights (autonomy/decentralization) between managers and workers, job design (e.g. flexibility of working, job rotation), team-working (e.g. who works with whom) and information provision.

Space limitations mean we do not cover matching (see Oyer and Schaffer, this Volume) or skill development/training. Second, we will only devote a small amount of space to employee representation such as labor unions (see...
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