A supervisor like me: Race, representation, and the satisfaction and turnover decisions of public sector employees



Studies of race representation in public organizations illustrate the importance of bureaucrat race in determining client-level outcomes. Building “upward” from this research, this study examines how supervisor race impacts outcomes for street-level bureaucrats using data from a nationally representative sample of public schools. Employing multiple estimation methods, we find that, consistent with the predictions of representation theory, teachers report higher job satisfaction and turn over less often when supervised by an own-race principal. We also find that race congruence impacts the tangible and intangible organizational benefits teachers receive, and, moreover, that race congruence impacts white and African American employees differently. Most troubling, we find evidence that black teachers earn substantially less in supplemental pay when they work for a white principal, even when compared to white teachers in the same school. © 2011 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.