U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Skip Header

Fresh Uses for the Management and Organizational Practices Survey Instrument

Written by:

The U.S. Census Bureau develops instruments to collect information of use to many stakeholders, including businesses. In this blog, I highlight novel uses of the Management and Organizational Practices Survey (MOPS) collection instrument to evaluate business performance including measuring behavior at a single business, and a tool that can be used by businesses to benchmark their own behavior.

For reference years 2010 and 2015, the Census Bureau conducted the MOPS to measure the use of structured management practices and related topics in the manufacturing sector. The MOPS is a supplement to the Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) and can be matched to a variety of high-quality establishment-level performance data collected by the Census Bureau, such as sales, employment and productivity. A team of economists using the MOPS find evidence that the use of these structured management practices can explain approximately 20 percent of the variation in productivity between manufacturing firms. Structured practices are explicit, formal, frequent, or specific applications of practices related to data-driven performance monitoring, target- or goal-setting, and performance incentive-setting.

Published results for the MOPS 2015 include an index of structured management adoption calculated at the industry subsector level, at the state level, and by employment size and establishment age categories, as well as question-level response shares for the population of manufacturing establishments. To construct the index of structured management, each of the 16 management questions on the questionnaire were scored on a normalized scale from zero to one, with one indicating the most structured practice and zero the least structured practice. The establishment’s structured management score was calculated as the unweighted average of the normalized responses for the 16 management questions. For more information on scoring for the MOPS, see the methodology here.  

Given that these structured management scores are correlated with outcomes, it is natural that a business utilizing this data might be interested not only in the level of structure in the industry or geographic area, but in the business’ own relative level of structure. To this end, a team of experts on management who partnered with the Census Bureau to develop the MOPS have created a website where businesses can answer the questions from the MOPS and benchmark their own use of structured management practices.

Simultaneously, Brittany Bond, a Ph.D. student at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, adapted the Management Practices portion of the MOPS into a questionnaire called the Management Practices Inventory (MPI) to ask about individual manager practices at a single large multinational company.


Selected Survey Instruments on Management Practices

  • Management and Organizational Practices Survey (MOPS): 2010 and 2015
  • Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs (ASE) Topical Module: 2015
  • Economic Census Special Inquiry Into Health Care Services: 2017
  • Management Practices Inventory (MPI): Questionnaire


While the MOPS asks a single respondent manager to fill out the questionnaire for an establishment as a whole, the MPI asks individual managers from across different business functions of the participating company about their approach to managing their own teams. Several questions from the MOPS were eliminated or consolidated to ensure that the MPI was general enough that any manager across any business function of a typical large firm could likely interpret the questions, and be able to answer, in the same manner. This reduced the total number of questions from 16 to 10, allowing for comparability across units and teams while maintaining comparability to the MOPS.



10 questions are benchmarked from the U.S. Census Bureau’s MOPS and ASE.

  • How much and what type of TARGETING is done for business deliverables and other monitored performance indicators (three questions)?
  • How frequently activity is MONITORED. For example: Checking in on goals and giving feedback about behavior of employees (four questions).
  • How achievement of those goals is INCENTIVIZED (two questions).
  • What kind of DATA is used in DECISION-MAKING (one question, parts “a” and “b”)?


Bond’s survey had a participation rate of over 75 percent, meaning that around 500 managers completed the MPI. As with the MOPS, Bond constructed an index of structured management adoption using responses to each of the 10 questions.

Responses to the MPI indicated that most managers use at least 50 percent of the structured management practices. Less than 10 percent of respondents reported adopting less than 50 percent of the practices. However, adoption is not complete. Less than 10 percent of managers reported that they adopted more than 75 percent of the practices. (See Figure 1.)

Attached to the MPI questionnaire was also a case-based exercise asking respondent managers to reflect on how they manage evaluating an underperforming employee’s work performance. Using the MPI, Bond finds that managers who adopt more structured practices give more accurate evaluations of their employees’ performance.

These fresh applications of the Census Bureau’s MOPS methodology allow businesses to utilize the MOPS to evaluate their own relationships between management practices and performance.


Back to Header