Boss Competence and Worker Well-Being – Industrial and Labor Relations Review 

Nearly all workers have a supervisor or ‘‘boss.’’ Yet little is known about how bosses influence the quality of employees’ lives. This study offers new evidence. First, the authors find that a boss’s technical competence is the single strongest predictor of a worker’s job satisfaction. Second, they demonstrate using longitudinal data, after controlling for fixed-effects, that even if a worker stays in the same job and workplace, a rise in the competence of a supervisor is associated with an improvement in the worker’s well-being. Third, the authors report a variety of robustness checks, including tentative instrumental variable results. These findings, which draw on U.S. and British data, contribute to an emerging literature on the role of ‘‘expert leaders’’ in organizations.

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