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Management Matters: Firm Level Evidence From Around the Globe



John Van Reenen,

Date and Time

March 4, 2009 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM


By Invitation Only.


CISAC Conference Room

John Van Reenen has established an international reputation as a scholar of the economics of consequences and causes of innovation. He works on the applied econometrics of industrial organization and labor economics, especially areas relating to productivity growth, management and organizational practices, R&D, anti-trust, intellectual property, policy evaluation and investment decisions.

John Van Reenen has been a full Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, and Director of the Centre for Economic Performance since 2003. He graduated with a First from Cambridge University (Queens College) with the highest mark in a decade before completing a Masters degree (with distinction) from the LSE, and doing his PhD at University College London in 1993. He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Professor at University College London. He has published over 40 refereed papers in international journals, including the American Economic Review and the Quarterly Journal of Economics. He has also been an editor of many journals, including the Journal of Economic Literature, Journal of Industrial Economics, and the Review of Economic Studies. He has served as a senior advisor to the UK Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Health, and the European Commission. Formerly, he was a partner in an economic consultancy company, Lexecon, and Chief Technology Officer in a software start-up. He frequently appears in newspapers, radio, and TV.

John Van Reenen, Professor of Economics and Director of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, and the Denning Visiting Professor in Global Business and the Economy at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, offered an FSI Director’s seminar on March 4, looking at “Management Matters: Firm Level Evidence from Around the World.” Finding a dearth of empirical evidence on international management practices, and how they affect business performance and productivity across firms and across countries, Van Reenen and colleagues Nick Bloom, Christos Genakos, and Rafaella Sadum set out to remedy that deficit.

Van Reenen and colleagues developed a new methodology to measure global management practices, scoring firms in three areas: how well they track what goes on inside their firms, how they set targets and trace outcomes, and how effectively they use incentives to address and reward performance. Drawing on interview data from 5,000 firms in 15 countries across the Americas, Asia, and Europe, the researchers found that better performance is correlated with better management.  U.S. firms had the highest average management practice scores followed by Germany, Sweden, and Japan.

Asking why management practices vary so much, they found that multinational firms and firms operating in highly competitive markets have better management practices, while family owned firms and firms facing extensive labor market regulation have the worst. These four factors accounted for half of the variation in management practice scores across firms and across countries.