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We have developed an in-depth survey methodology and constructed a robust measure of management practices in order to investigate and explain differences in management practices across firms and countries in different sectors. The WMS methodology is described in detail in Bloom and Van Reenen’s 2007 management paper, Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and Countries. In summary, our methodology allows our interviewers to:

  • Obtain and conduct interviews with senior managers by 1) monitoring interviewer’s performance in contacting firms and scheduling interviews, 2) presenting the study as a “piece of work” and the interview as a confidential conversation about management experiences without any mentioning of the organization’s financial performance, 3) sending informational letters as well as copies of country endorsements letters if necessary, and 4) starting with non-controversial questions of management practices within the organization. 

  • Ensure the collection of accurate responses through a blind technique by 1) conducting a telephone survey without informing the managers that their answers will be evaluated against a scoring grid and thus, gathering information about actual management practices (as opposed to manager’s aspirations, perceptions and interviewer’s impressions), 2) asking open-ended questions until an accurate assessment of the actual management practices can be made, 3) assuring that each interviewer conducts a minimum amount of interviews in order to correct any inconsistent interpretation of responses, 4) double-scoring, i.e, having another interviewer silently listening and scoring the responses provided during the interview to be discussed with the primary interviewer, and 5) conducting a second interview with another manager in the same organization for a set number of organizations. 

  • Evaluate and score management practices by defining the concept of “good” and “bad” management practices and codifying them from 1 (worst practice) to 5 (best practice) across key management practices used by organizations across different sectors. These practices are grouped into five areas: 1) Operations Management, 2) Performance Monitoring, 3) Target Setting, 4) Leadership Management and 5) Talent Management.

Survey instruments:

Overview of Management Questions Across Sectors


2010 Survey Instrument


2009 Survey Instrument


2009 Survey Instrument


2009 Survey Instrument