According to a new paperÂ by Amanda Goodall, Lawrence Kahn, and Andrew Oswald, the answer is yes.
We measure the success of National Basketball Association (NBA) teams between 1996 and 2004, and then attempt to work back to the underlying causes. We have information on 15,040 regular season games for 219 coach-season observations, for which we compute winning percentages; in addition, we study post-season playoff success for these coaches. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a main explanatory factor is the quality of the group of players. But, less predictably, there seem also to be clear effects from the nature of a team s coach. Teams perform substantially better if led by a coach who was, in his day, an outstanding player.
They also cite evidence that this holds in a context with direct relevance to me: university management.
Goodall finds a positive cross-section correlation between the scholarly quality of presidents and the academic excellence of their institutions, and some evidence, for a set of British universities, that those led by highly cited scholars show improved performance over the ensuing decade.
So if your boss is incapable of doing your job, perhaps he or she isn’t much chop as a manager.