Personnel Management and School Productivity: Evidence from India
Renata Lemos (World Bank)
Karthik Muralidharan (UCSD)
Daniela Scur (University of Oxford)

Abstract : This paper uses two new datasets to study management and productivity in primary schools in India. We report four main sets of results. First, management quality in public schools is low on average, but there is meaningful variation across public schools that is correlated with both independent measures of teaching practice, as well as measures of student value added. Second, we find higher management scores in private schools, and this advantage is mainly driven by differences in people management (as opposed to operations management). Third, we find that the private school advantage over public schools in student value-added is largely accounted for by differences in people management practices. Fourth, we find that the private-school advantage in measures of people management is consistent with independent measures of personnel policy. Specifically, private school teacher pay is positively correlated with measures of teacher value-added, and private schools are more likely to retain teachers with higher value-addition and let go teachers with lower value-addition. Neither pattern is seen in public schools.

Outsourcing Service Delivery in a Fragile State: Experimental Evidence from Liberia
Mauricio Romero (Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México)
Justin Sandefur (Center for Global Development)
Wayne Sandholtz (UC San Diego)

Abstract : Can outsourcing improve public service delivery in fragile states? To answer this question, we present results from a field experiment in Liberia, where the government delegated management of 93 public schools — staffed by government teachers and run free of charge to students — to private providers. We randomly assigned treatment status at the school level and sampled students from pre-treatment enrollment records to identify the effectiveness of the treatment without confounding the effect of endogenous sorting of pupils into schools. After one academic year, students in outsourced schools scored .18 sd higher in English and mathematics than those in control schools. Private providers improved scores on an index of managerial practices and significantly reduced teacher absenteeism (“better management”), but also spent significantly more per student and employed more teachers than control schools (“extra resources”). Non-experimental mediation analysis suggests better management and extra resources played roughly equal roles in the observed learning gains. In line with program rules, we find no evidence that providers engaged in selective admissions. Our design allows us to study heterogeneity across providers: While the highest-performing providers increased learning by 0.26 sd, the lowest-performing had no impact. Providers also differed in behavior that may generate negative spillovers for the broader school system, including removing pupils to keep class sizes small, and reassigning underperforming teachers to other public schools. These results suggest that leveraging the private sector to improve service delivery in fragile states is promising, but also highlight the importance of procurement rules and contracting details in aligning public and private interests.

Where Does Management Matter? the Effect of Management on Student Outcomes in Public and Private Schools
Patrick L. Warren (Clemson University)
Benjamin Harbolt (Clemson University)

Abstract : School management practices matter for student performance. But is the higher managerial autonomy enjoyed by public and autonomous government schools (AGS/charters) a substitute or a complement for better management practices. Using a survey by Bloom (2015) of the management practices of over 1000 secondary schools around the world, we demonstrate that the relationship between good management practices and good student performance is must stronger in private schools than it is in either traditional public or AGS schools. Specifically, a 1 standard deviation (s.d.) increase in general management practices is associated with a 0.18 s.d. increase in student performance among public schools, at 0.25 s.d. increase among charter AGS schools and with an 0.37 s.d. increase in student performance among private schools. These results are robust to controlling for other inputs and student characteristics, and are driven primarily by a differential response to operations and monitoring management. People management and targeting also matter for performance, but they seem to matter about the same across organizational forms.