Raffaella Sadun

Assistant Professor, Richard Hodgson Fellow

Raffaella Sadun is an Assistant Professor of Business Administration and Richard Hodgson Fellow in the Strategy Unit at Harvard Business School. Professor Sadun's research focuses on the economics of productivity, management and organizational change. Her research documents the economic and cultural determinants of managerial choices, as well as their implications for firm performance. Most recently, Professor Sadun has led an international research project with colleagues from the London School of Economics, Stanford University and McKinsey & Company studying the role of management for the performance of acute care hospitals and secondary schools in Europe and North America. Professor Sadun's work has appeared in leading peer reviewed journals including the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics and the Economic Journal, and has been featured in the business press, including The New York Times, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times. She is a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Faculty Associate at the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics. In 2012 Professor Sadun was nominated as a Junior Faculty Fellow at the Kauffman Foundation.

Professor Sadun completed her PhD in Economics at the London School of Economics. Prior to her doctoral studies, Professor Sadun earned a M.Sc. in Economics from Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.​

  1. Call for Papers: Measuring Management Conference

    The World Management Survey (www.worldmanagementsurvey.com) began in 2004. It is an interdisciplinary research project aimed at the study of the causes and consequences of management practices using detailed firm-level management data collected across a variety of establishments, countries and industries.  To build on this rapidly expanding research field we would like to organize a two day conference on the measurement and analysis of management practices at Harvard Business School from about 9am Thursday 15th May to about 4pm on Friday 16th May 2014.  We would like to invite papers on measuring management practices across firms and countries, or related topics including on the impact of management on firm performance and factors explaining differences in management practices across firms, countries and industries.

  2. Managerial Capital at the Top

    CEOs are often cited as a key factor in determining the success of a firm. However, direct evidence on the behavior of corporate leaders is scant. To fill this gap, we record in detail the activities undertaken by 354 CEOs of listed Indian manufacturing firms over an exogenously chosen work week. We observe substantial heterogeneity in total hours worked ("labor supply") and the allocation of time across activities ("style"). In particular, CEOs can be divided in two groups. The CEOs in the first group (Style 1) are more likely to plan in advance, interact mostly with employees of the firms who are their direct reports, especially in production, and are more likely to meet with many people, and different functions, at the same time. The second group of CEOs (Style 2) is less likely to plan, more likely to meet with outsiders in one-to-one meetings. CEOs who work longer hours and that fall in the Style 1 category are associated with higher firm-level productivity and profitability. CEO labor supply and style are strongly associated with firm level characteristics. In particular, family CEOs work fewer hours and are less likely to adopt the more productive style. To investigate the source of these differences between family and non-family CEOs, we study the effect of two sources of shocks to the disutility of work: extreme weather and televised cricket matches. Controlling for other factors, family CEOs are more likely to decrease their labor supply in response to these shocks.
  3. Does Management Really Work?

    Are organizations more likely to succeed if they adopt good management practices? The answer may seem obvious to most HBR readers, but these three economists cast their net much wider than that. In a decade long study of thousands of organizations in 20 countries, they and their interview team assessed how well manufacturers, schools, and hospitals adhere to three management basics: targets, incentives, and monitoring.

  4. The Radical Beauty of Three Simple Management Practices

    Are you among the 79%? In our research into more than 8,000 companies in 20 countries, 79% of organizations reported that their management practices were above average.

  5. Family Firms Need Professional Management


    Healthcare expenditure represents a major challenge for all countries, absorbing an increasing percentage of national income. Nations are grappling with increases in demand for healthcare as their populations age and expectations rise along with living standards. At the same time, industrialised countries face budgetary shortfalls. As these nations seek to control healthcare costs, an unbalanced focus on “cost” can carry unacceptable consequences; therefore health systems across the developed world are focusing on enhancing quality and productivity. Implementing systemic change is daunting, but the results from this latest Management Matters in Healthcare research provide an optimistic message: improving management practices is a way to raise both quality and productivity. Thus, instilling better management practices could be a key part of addressing difficult challenges.


    What determines whether decisions happen on the bottom, middle, or top rung of the corporate ladder? New research offers a surprising conclusion: The answer often lies in the technology that a company uses.


    Since Coco Chanel unveiled her iconic black dress in Paris in 1926, that little black dress has become a clothing essential in every woman's wardrobe...In a similar vein I have been working with an international research team for the last decade to discover the essentials of management. This team — from the Harvard Business School, Cambridge University, the London School of Economics, McKinsey & Company, and Stanford University — has surveyed over 10,000 firms in over 20 countries, interviewed hundreds of CEOs, and even run multimillion dollar management field experiments in an unparalleled research effort to reveal some basic practices that every manager should follow.