Social Norms and Firm Productivity: Evidence from Bangladeshi Knitwear Factories

In this project, we aim to test whether gender norms, in particular norms around communication between men and women, hinders information transmission inside the firm. Particularly, we argue that in certain settings, men are unwilling to receive productivity improving information from women, that this dynamic is costly to the firm, and that it limits women's career advancement. To test these hypotheses, we collaborate with Bangladeshi knitwear factories to conduct an incentivized survey experiment to examine workers' willingness to participate in information sharing sessions with workers of the same versus the opposite sex (versus an anonymous condition). We also implement a field experiment in which we inject information about productivity-enhancing practices into the firm through selected men and women. We then study how gender affects information diffusion across workers and quantify the downstream effects on trained and untrained workers' productivity. Finally, we explore methods to alleviate the impact of gender norms on information transmission in the factory.

RFP Cycle:
Summer 2021
  • Laura Boudreau
  • Sakib Mahmood
  • Oren Reshef
  • Full project