Chapter 6: Valuing the blind side: pay and performance of offensive linemen in the National Football League
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Empirical identification of the monetary returns to specialization in economic activities is extremely difficult, particularly where questionnaire surveys of managers or workers are used (Green et al., 1998). The limitations of broad questionnaire surveys, containing subjective and possibly unreliable responses, represent one good reason why some economists have recently focused on in-depth analysis of the effects of human resource management policies in particular manufacturing plants. This approach, called ‘nano-econometrics’ from the pioneering contribution of Ichniowski and Shaw (2003) on US steel plants, allows economists to obtain precise measures of worker performance and rewards. This chapter is an example of nano-econometrics, using the sports industry as a setting. Kahn’s (2000) description of the team sports industry as a labor market laboratory is apposite here.

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