Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2014

Cohort Turnover and Productivity: The July Phenomenon in Teaching Hospitals

by Robert S. Huckman, Hummy Song and Jason R. Barro


We consider the impact of cohort turnover—the planned simultaneous exit of a large number of experienced employees and a similarly sized entry of new workers—on productivity in the context of teaching hospitals. Specifically, we examine the impact of the annual July turnover of residents in American teaching hospitals on levels of resource utilization and quality in teaching hospitals relative to a control group of non-teaching hospitals. We find that, despite the anticipated nature of the cohort turnover and the supervisory structures that exist in teaching hospitals, this annual cohort turnover results in increased resource utilization (i.e., longer length of hospital stay) for both minor and major teaching hospitals, and decreased quality (i.e., higher mortality rates) for major teaching hospitals. Particularly in major teaching hospitals, we find evidence of a gradual trend of decreasing performance that begins several months before the actual cohort turnover and may result from a transition of responsibilities at major teaching hospitals in anticipation of the cohort turnover.

Keywords: Quality; Higher Education; Service Delivery; Groups and Teams; Performance Productivity; Retention; Health Care and Treatment; Resignation and Termination; Health Industry;


Huckman, Robert S., Hummy Song, and Jason R. Barro. "Cohort Turnover and Productivity: The July Phenomenon in Teaching Hospitals." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-113, May 2014.