Office Hours: Thursdays, 18.00-20.00
I am on the Job Market 2015/16, and will be available for interviews on the AEA Annual Meeting in San Francisco and on the RES PhD Meeting in London in January 2016
I am a Ph.D. student and an empirical micro-economist working on Development, Organizational, and Labor Economics. My research interest lies in organizational learning and firms in developing countries, and my papers and work in progress cover the roles of social networks, gender, minimum wages and training in these firms. I spent more than one year for field work in the Bangladeshi garment sector during my Ph.D., and I have a strong interest in experiments conducted in firms.
Current Research Interests
- Development, Organizational and Labor Economics
Other Research Interests:
- Institutions, Culture and Growth
- Mathematical Techniques B (EC123)
- Advanced Macroeconomic Analysis (EC9A2 - Economic Growth Module)
- Microeconomics (EC957)
Job Market Paper:
Organizational learning, or the sharing of knowledge among co-workers in firms, has long been assumed to be a key driver of productivity growth. However, because knowledge exchange is inherently difficult to observe, identifying the effect of knowledge sharing on productivity has remained problematic. The literature has often measured knowledge exchange in firms through increases in productivity of workers if other workers in the same firm have already produced the same product. However, this approach risks confounding the effect of knowledge exchange with other peer effects, such as competition.This paper provides evidence from a communication intervention in three Bangladeshi garment factories in which randomly selected workers were instructed by their superiors to share production knowledge when one worker started producing a garment that the other had already produced. The intervention increased the productivity of the later workers producing the garment by 0.2 standard deviations during the first one to two days they produce the garment, before their productivity reached its long-run level again. There is some evidence that the effect was stronger if the workers sharing knowledge were socially connected. A back-of-the envelope calculation indicates that the return on this low-cost intervention is in excess of 600 percent. Furthermore, compliance by the factories in implementing the intervention was higher if the later workers that should receive knowledge were younger. This indicates that workers' status concerns could interfere with the implementation of such a management routine, and could explain why the routine had not been implemented earlier by the factories.
(Joint with Rocco Macchiavello, Atonu Rabbani, and Christopher Woodruff)
While 80 percent of the sewing work force in Bangladeshi garment factories is female, less than 10 percent of supervisors are. Exploring the reasons for this stark pattern, we first document a mismatch between perceived and actual weaknesses of female supervisors, held both by workers and managers in the factories. Women are considered technically less knowledgeable, while almost on par with male supervisors when it comes to soft skills. However, extensive tests showed that female workers have equal technical knowledge compared to their male peers, while they are less likely to take on leadership roles in group exercises, and have much less confidence in their abilities.
We go on studying the effects of a six week training course by a local training centre for garment workers who were selected to become supervisors by their employers, in which equal numbers of male and female workers were trained. We show that participation in the training course greatly diminishes the gender gap in confidence, and after working for two months as supervisor on randomly selected sewing lines, initial differences in sewing line productivity of lines with male and female trainees vanish. Furthermore, female trainees achieve better results in management simulation exercises that we conducted. We conclude that a mismatch between perceived and actual weaknesses of women in the Bangladeshi garment industry, a lack of confidence in own ability instead of technical knowledge, prevents the factory managements from taking effective measures to promote more women into supervisory roles. If given the right support, the performance of female supervisors quickly catches up with the one of their male peers. This is also reflected in workers, especially males, who already worked under female supervisors rating their ability more favourably.