Don't Spread Yourself Too Thin: The Impact of Task Juggling on Workers' Speed of Job Completion
Decio Coviello (),
Andrea Ichino and
Nicola Persico ()
Additional contact information
Decio Coviello: University of Rome Tor Vergata
Nicola Persico: New York University
No 5280, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)
We show that task juggling, i.e., the spreading of effort across too many active projects, decreases the performance of workers, raising the chances of low throughput, long duration of projects and exploding backlogs. Individual speed of job completion cannot be explained only in terms of effort, ability and experience: work scheduling is a crucial "input" that cannot be omitted from the production function of individual workers. We provide a simple theoretical model to study the effects of increased task juggling on the duration of projects. Using a sample of Italian judges we show that those who are induced for exogenous reasons to work in a more parallel fashion on many trials at the same time, take longer to complete similar portfolios of cases. The exogenous variation that identifies this causal effect is constructed exploiting the lottery that assigns cases to judges together with the procedural prescription requiring judges to hold the first hearing of a case no later than 60 days from filing.
Keywords: work scheduling; individual production function; duration of trials (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J0 K0 M5 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ppm
References: View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (2) Track citations by RSS feed
Published as 'Time Allocation and Task Juggling' in: American Economic Review, 2014, 104 (2), 609-623 (theoretical model), and as 'The Inefficiency of Worker Time Use' in: Journal of the European Economic Association, 2015, 5 (19), 906 - 947 (empirical part)
Downloads: (external link)
Working Paper: Don’t spread yourself too thin. The impact of task juggling on workers’ speed of job completion (2011)
Working Paper: Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin. The Impact of Task Juggling on Workers' Speed of Job Completion (2010)
Working Paper: Don't Spread Yourself Too Thin: The Impact of Task Juggling on Workers' Speed of Job Completion (2010)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5280
Ordering information: This working paper can be ordered from
IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Access Statistics for this paper
More papers in IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA) IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany. Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Holger Hinte ().