nep-hrm New Economics Papers
on Human Capital and Human Resource Management
Issue of 2013‒02‒16
twelve papers chosen by
Tommaso Reggiani
University of Cologne

  1. Do entrepreneurs matter? By Becker, Sascha; Hvide, Hans V
  2. The "Task Approach" to Labor Markets: An Overview By Autor, David
  3. Are You Happy While You Work? By Alex Bryson; George MacKerron
  4. Happiness and Productivity By Oswald, Andrew; Proto, Eugenio; Sgroi, Daniel
  5. The Importance of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation for Measuring IQ By Borghans, Lex; Meijers, Huub; ter Weel, Bas
  6. SOCIAL NORMS AND FIRMS’ DISCRIMINATORY PAY-SETTING By Simon Janssen; Simone N. Tuor Sartore; Uschi Backes-Gellner
  7. University spinoffs and the 'performance premium' By Czarnitzki, Dirk; Rammer, Christian; Toole, Andrew A.
  8. Performance, Career Dynamics, and Span of Control By Valerie Smeets; Michael Waldman; Frederic Warzynski
  9. Commercial Building Electricity Consumption Dynamics: The Role of Structure Quality, Human Capital, and Contract Incentives By Matthew E. Kahn; Nils Kok; John M. Quigley
  10. Management practices do make a difference By André de Waal
  11. Friends and health of the workers in Italy By Fiorillo, Damiano
  12. Do Single-Sex Classes Affect Exam Scores? An Experiment in a Coeducational University By Alison L. Booth; Lina Cardona-Sosa; Patrick Nolen

  1. By: Becker, Sascha (University of Warwick); Hvide, Hans V (University of Bergen)
    Abstract: In the large literature on firm performance, economists have given little attention to entrepreneurs. We use deaths of more than 500 entrepreneurs as a source of exogenous variation, and ask whether this variation can explain shifts in firm performance. Using longitudinal data, we find large and sustained effects of entrepreneurs at all levels of the performance distribution. Entrepreneurs strongly affect firm growth patterns of both very young firms and for firms that have begun to mature. We do not find significant differences between small and larger firms, family and non-family firms, nor between firms located in urban and rural areas, but we do find stronger effects for founders with high human capital. Overall, theresults suggest that an often overlooked factor –individual entrepreneurs –plays a large role in affecting firm performance.
    Keywords: entrepreneurship, Örm performance, human capital.
    Date: 2013
  2. By: Autor, David (MIT)
    Abstract: An emerging literature argues that changes in the allocation of workplace "tasks" between capital and labor, and between domestic and foreign workers, has altered the structure of labor demand in industrialized countries and fostered employment polarization – that is, rising employment in the highest and lowest paid occupations. Analyzing this phenomenon within the canonical production function framework is challenging, however, because the assignment of tasks to labor and capital in the canonical model is essentially static. This essay sketches an alternative model of the assignment of skills to tasks based upon comparative advantage, reviews key conceptual and practical challenges that researchers face in bringing the "task approach" to the data, and cautions against two common pitfalls that pervade the growing task literature. I conclude with a cautiously optimistic forecast for the potential of the task approach to illuminate the interactions among skill supplies, technological capabilities, and trade and offshoring opportunities, in shaping the aggregate demand for skills, the assignment of skills to tasks, and the evolution of wages.
    Keywords: skill demands, technological change, job tasks, Roy model, human capital, occupational choice
    JEL: J23 J24 J30 J31 O31 O33
    Date: 2013–01
  3. By: Alex Bryson (NIESR and CEP); George MacKerron (Department of Economics, University of Sussex)
    Abstract: Recent work in psychology and economics has investigated ways in which individuals experience their lives. This literature includes influences on individuals’ momentary happiness. We contribute to this literature using a new data source, Mappiness (, which permits individuals to record their wellbeing via a smartphone. The data contain more than a million observations on tens of thousands of individuals in the UK, collected since August 2010. We explore the links between individuals’ wellbeing measured momentarily at random points in time and their experiences of paid work. We explore variation in wellbeing within-individual over time having accounted for fixed unobservable differences across people. We quantify the effects of working on individuals’ affect relative to other activities they perform. We consider the effects of working on two aspects of affect: happiness and relaxation. We find paid work is ranked lower than any of the other 39 activities individuals engage in, with the exception of being sick in bed. Although controlling for other factors, including person fixed effects, reduces the size of the association its rank position remains the same and the effect is still equivalent to a 7-8% reduction in happiness relative to circumstances in which one is not working. Paid work has a similar though slightly larger negative impact on being relaxed. However, precisely how unhappy or anxious one is while working depends on the circumstances. Wellbeing at work varies significantly with where you work (at home, at work, elsewhere); whether you are combining work with other activities; whether you are alone or with others; and the time of day or night you are working.
    Keywords: happiness; relaxation; work; wellbeing.
    JEL: I1 J0 J28
    Date: 2013–02
  4. By: Oswald, Andrew (University of Warwick); Proto, Eugenio (University of Warwick); Sgroi, Daniel (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: Some firms say they care about the happiness and ‘well-being’ of their employees. But are such claims hype? Or might they be scientific good sense? This study provides evidence that happiness makes people more productive. First, we examine fundamental real-world shocks (bereavement and family illness) imposed by Nature. We show that lower happiness is associated with lower productivity. Second, within the laboratory, we design two randomized controlled trials. Some individuals are deliberately made happier, while those in a control group are not. The treated individuals have 10-12% greater productivity than those in the control group. These complementary kinds of evidence, with their different strengths and weaknesses, point to a consistent pattern. They suggest that happiness raises human performance.
    Keywords: Happiness; well-being; productivity; personnel economics.
    Date: 2013
  5. By: Borghans, Lex (Maastricht University); Meijers, Huub (Maastricht University); ter Weel, Bas (CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis)
    Abstract: This research provides an economic model of the way people behave during an IQ test. We distinguish a technology that describes how time investment improves performance from preferences that determine how much time people invest in each question. We disentangle these two elements empirically using data from a laboratory experiment. The main findings is that both intrinsic (questions that people like to work on) and extrinsic motivation (incentive payments) increase time investments and as a result performance. The presence of incentive payments seems to be more important than the size of the reward. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation turn out to be complements.
    Keywords: cognitive test scores, incentives
    JEL: J20 J24
    Date: 2013–01
  6. By: Simon Janssen (Department of Business Administration (IBW), University of Zurich); Simone N. Tuor Sartore (Department of Business Administration (IBW), University of Zurich); Uschi Backes-Gellner (Department of Business Administration (IBW), University of Zurich)
    Abstract: We analyze the relationship between gender-specific social norms and firms’ pay-setting behavior. We combine information about regional voting behavior relative to gender equality laws, as a measure for gender-specific social norms, with a large data set of multi-branch firms and workers. The results show that multi-branch firms pay more discriminatory wages in branches located in regions with a higher social acceptance of gender inequality than in branches located in regions with a lower acceptance. Voter approval rates account for about 50% of the entire variation of within-firm gender pay gaps across regions. By investigating a subsample of performance pay workers for whom we are able to observe their time-based and performance pay component separately, we show that unobserved productivity differences within firms across regions cannot explain the relationship between social norms and within-firm gender pay gaps. As performance pay is more closely related to workers’ productivity than time-based pay, gender-specific productivity differences would manifest in the workers’ performance pay component. However, as the relationship between social norms and within-firm gender pay gaps manifests only for the time-based pay component but not for the performance pay component of the same workers, unobserved gender-specific productivity differences cannot explain our findings. The results support a strong relationship between social norms and the discriminatory pay-setting behavior of firms.
    JEL: J31 J33 J71 M5
    Date: 2013–01
  7. By: Czarnitzki, Dirk; Rammer, Christian; Toole, Andrew A.
    Abstract: The creation of spinoff companies is often promoted as a desirable mechanism for transferring knowledge and technologies from research organizations to the private sector for commercialization. In the promotion process, policymakers typically treat these 'university' spinoffs like industry startups. However, when university spinoffs involve an employment transition by a researcher out of the not-for-profit sector, the creation of a university spinoff is likely to impose a higher social cost than the creation of an industry startup. To offset this higher social cost, university spinoffs must produce a larger stream of social benefits than industry startups, a performance premium. This paper outlines the arguments why the social costs of entrepreneurship are likely to be higher for academic entrepreneurs and empirically investigates the existence of a performance premium using a sample of German startup companies. We find that university spinoffs exhibit a performance premium of 3.4 percentage points higher employment growth over industry startups. The analysis also shows that the performance premium varies across types of academic entrepreneurs and founders' academic disciplines. --
    Keywords: Academic Entrepreneurship,Startups,Firm performance,Technology Transfer,Open Science,University Spinoff Policy,Human Capital,Social Capital
    JEL: L25 L26 J24
    Date: 2013
  8. By: Valerie Smeets (Department of Economics and Business, Aarhus University); Michael Waldman (Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University); Frederic Warzynski (Department of Economics and Business, Aarhus University)
    Abstract: There is an extensive theoretical literature based on what is called the scale-of-operations effect, i.e., the idea that the return to managerial ability is higher the more resources the manager influences with his or her decisions. This idea leads to various testable predictions including that higher ability managers should supervise more subordinates, or equivalently, have a larger span of control. And although some of this theory’s predictions have been empirically investigated, there has been little systematic investigation of the theory’s predictions concerning span of control. In this paper we first extend the theoretical literature on the scale-of-operations effect to allow firms’ beliefs concerning a manager’s ability to evolve over the manager’s career, where much of our focus is the determinants of span of control. We then empirically investigate testable predictions from this theoretical analysis using a unique single firm dataset that contains detailed information concerning the reporting relationships at the firm. Our investigation provides strong support both for the model’s predictions concerning wages, wage changes, and probability of promotion, and also for the model’s predictions concerning span of control including predictions derived from the learning component of the model. Overall, our investigation supports the notion that the scale-of-operations effect and additionally learning are important determinants of the internal organization of firms including span of control.
    Keywords: performance, career dynamics, span of control
    JEL: J31 M5
    Date: 2013–02–05
  9. By: Matthew E. Kahn; Nils Kok; John M. Quigley
    Abstract: Commercial real estate plays a key role in determining the urban sustainability of a metropolitan area. While the residential sector has been the primary focus of energy policies, commercial buildings are now responsible for most of the durable building stock’s total electricity consumption. This paper exploits a unique panel of commercial buildings to investigate the impact of building vintage, contract incentives, and human capital on electricity consumption across commercial structures. We document that electricity consumption and building quality are complements, not substitutes. Technological progress may reduce the energy demand from heating, cooling and ventilation, but the behavioral response of building tenants and the large-scale adoption of appliances more than offset these savings, leading to increases in energy consumption in more recently constructed, more efficient structures.
    JEL: H23 H41 Q54 Q55
    Date: 2013–02
  10. By: André de Waal (Director at the HPO Center and Associate Professor of Strategic Management at Maastricht School of Management, the Netherlands)
    Abstract: An issue which has occupied management researchers for a long time is that of the direction of causality, centering around the question: Do certain management practices cause better performance or do better performing organizations find it easier to adopt certain management practices? Much research, looking into the connections between organizations practicing certain management techniques and their organizational performance, find positive relations between the two but this is showing only correlation and not causality. This research shows that applying certain management practices, in this case the High Performance Organization (HPO) Framework, does impact the performance of organizations positively and that thus the causality is from management practice to organizational performance and not the other way around.
    Keywords: high performance organization (HPO), national culture, business students
    JEL: M12 M14
    Date: 2013–03
  11. By: Fiorillo, Damiano
    Abstract: Using a rich cross-sectional dataset, we estimate the effect of meetings with friends on self-perceived health, chronic conditions and limitations in daily activities of Italian employees. We address the self-selection of individuals in labour market using an Heckman selection model. Our main preliminary findings show that meetings with friends is positively correlated with self-perceived health, negatively associated with chronic conditions but not related to limitations in activities of daily living.
    Keywords: Health; income; friends; workers; Italy
    JEL: I12 Z0 C35
    Date: 2013–02–07
  12. By: Alison L. Booth; Lina Cardona-Sosa; Patrick Nolen
    Abstract: We examine the effect of single-sex classes on the pass rates, grades, and course choices of students in a coeducational university. We randomly assign students to all-female, all-male, and coed classes and, therefore, get around the selection issues present in other studies on single-sex education. We find that one hour a week of single-sex education benefits females: females are 7% more likely to pass their first year courses and score 10% higher in their required second year classes than their peers attending coeducational classes. We find no effect of single-sex education on the probability that a female will take technical classes and there is no effect of single-sex education for males. Furthermore we are able to examine potential mechanisms driving the single-sex effect for females. We find that the results are consistent with a reduction in stereotype threat for females and are not due to a potential tracking effect.
    Keywords: single-sex, education, gender, experiment
    JEL: C91 C92 J16 J33
    Date: 2013–02

This nep-hrm issue is ©2013 by Tommaso Reggiani. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
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