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Learning What to Look For: Hard Measures of Soft Skills in Promotion



We report the results of a field experiment designed to promote women to supervisory positions in Bangladesh’s garment factories, with which participating factories have little prior experience. We show that formal diagnostic tests lead factories to choose candidates that are more likely to be promoted and who, according to their subordinates, perform better after promotion. Diagnostics measuring ‘soft skills’ are particularly relevant for managers. Randomised timing of supervisory training for the selected candidates shows that providing the training earlier leads to higher compliance with the standard factory training protocol, but has only marginal effects on the performance of the trainees following promotion.


Hannah Uckat and Christopher Woodruff, University of Oxford

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