The Learning Effects of Monitoring

From the Working Knowledge blog at Harvard Business School, a recent working paper investigates the relationship between monitoring, decision making, and learning among lower-level employees.

Executive Summary:
It’s a challenge that all good managers face: How do you strike the right balance between encouraging autonomy among your employees and mitigating the risk that they’ll make bad decisions? Using both field and quantitative data from the MGM-Mirage Group, this paper discusses how management controls affect the learning rates of lower-level employees. Research, focusing on hotel casino hosts, was conducted by Dennis Campbell and Francisco de Asís Martinez-Jerez of Harvard Business School and Marc Epstein of Rice University. Key concepts include:

  • Tightly monitored employees were less likely to make independent decisions, even if their job descriptions allowed them to do so. They were even less likely to adjust their decisions to account for information they could easily show to their superiors to justify those decisions.
  • The lower frequency of experimentation in their decision-making leaves employees in tightly monitored environments with few opportunities to learn. The researchers question whether employees in these micromanaged environments made up for the lack of experimentation by paying more attention to and learning more from each experiment.
  • The researchers found strong learning effects among employees in settings where they were monitored by their bosses somewhat loosely. In settings where they were more tightly monitored, employees learned very little.

Download the full paper from the website. [this link is to a .pdf file.]


(Thanks to DocuTicker for bringing this to my attention).

UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics

The UN Conference on Trade and Development has released the latest Handbook of Statistics.  If you work in international trade or just need current world trade statistics to make better business decisions, contact me and let me help you with your information challenges.

The UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics provides essential data for analyzing and measuring world trade, investment, international financial flows and development. Reliable statistical information is often considered as the first step during the preparation of making recommendations or taking decisions that countries will commit for many years as they strive to integrate into the world economy and improve the living standards of their citizens. Whether it is for research, consultation or technical cooperation, UNCTAD requires comparable, often detailed economic, demographic and social data, over several decades and for as many countries as possible.

Workplace Information Overload

The 2010 International Workplace Productivity Survey, commissioned by LexisNexis, surveyed 1,700 white collar workers in five countries – the United States, China, South Africa, United Kingdom and Australia – found professionals in every market struggling to cope with information overload.

I can help! Information Outloud is a resource to help you find, focus, and filter information for you and your employees.

According to the study, “white collar workers say they spend as much time wading through information as they do using it in their jobs.”  Your time is valuable.  Your clients need you to act as fast as possible and be accurate, authoritative, and efficient.  I can help you wade through the information and find the best documents and data available from the Internet, commercial databases, and experts.

Michael Walsh, CEO of U.S. Legal Markets, LexisNexis: “The results of this survey reveal not just how widespread the problem is, but also the very real impact that information overload has on professionals’ productivity and the bottom line. Employers need to do more than simply toss their workers a life preserver and hope for the best. They need to invest in practical solutions.”

For more information on how Information Outloud can help you and your employees find better information, or use of the information around them more efficiently, please contact Tim at