- Programme: PhD in Strategy and Entrepreneurship
MSc Economics & Management (LSE)
My primary stream of research examines how organizations can use internal and external market frictions to gain a competitive advantage from skilled human capital. Specifically, I study the consequences of employees’ human capital, social capital and demographic characteristics for firm performance, organization design choices and hiring patterns. My dissertation is composed of three inter-related chapters examining value creation and capture from human and social capital. The first chapter asks why organizations continue to seek out employees with easily transferable (across firm boundaries) skills when such employees should appropriate much of the value they create, and provides empirical evidence from the mutual fund context that skill transferability is associated with positive spillovers that accrue largely to the firm. The second chapter, which is my job market paper, collects data from the US lobbying industry and explores how organizations generate and capture spillovers from their star human capital, whose high productivity and market visibility enable them to bargain away most of the surplus they create. I distinguish between the stars’ human capital (knowledge and skills) and social capital (relationships with clients and resource-providers), and argue that the mechanisms enabling human capital spillovers proposed in prior work – such as organization design and incentive structures – may not apply to or may even hinder social capital spillovers. I derive and test a number of empirical implications for organizations aiming to profit from the social capital of star employees. The third chapter collects data from US security analysts employed in banks and brokerage houses and explores the broader question of when employees will prioritize firm goals over their career concerns, arguing and showing that employees don’t exhibit invariant behaviors that systematically align with a single theory of the employment relation. In sum, this dissertation helps inform the broader debate regarding the management of highly skilled, but also highly mobile workers.