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Job-Hopping in Silicon Valley: Some Evidence Concerning the Micro-Foundations of a High Technology Cluster

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Author Info

  • Fallick, Bruce

    ()
    (Federal Reserve Board)

  • Fleischman, Charles A.

    ()
    (Federal Reserve Board)

  • Rebitzer, James B.

    ()
    (Boston University)

Abstract

In Silicon Valley's computer cluster, skilled employees are reported to move rapidly between competing firms. This job-hopping facilitates the reallocation of resources towards firms with superior innovations, but it also creates human capital externalities that reduce incentives to invest in new knowledge. Using a formal model of innovation we identify conditions where the innovation benefits of job-hopping exceed the costs from reduced incentives to invest in human capital. These conditions likely hold for computers, but not in most other settings. Features of state law also favor high rates of inter-firm mobility in California. Outside of California, employers can use non-compete agreements to inhibit mobility, but these agreements are unenforceable in California. Using new data on labor mobility we find higher rates of job-hopping for college-educated men in Silicon Valley's computer industry than in computer clusters located out of the state. Mobility rates in other California computer clusters are similar to Silicon Valley's, suggesting some role for state laws restricting non-compete agreements. Consistent with our model of innovation, we also find that outside of the computer industry, California's mobility rates are no higher than elsewhere.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1799.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Review of Economic and Statistics, 2006, 88(3), 472-481
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1799

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Keywords: job mobility; industrial clusters; Silicon Valley; innovation; non-compete agreements; knowledge spillovers;

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References

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  1. Jarle M√łen, 2000. "Is Mobility of Technical Personnel a Source of R&D Spillovers?," NBER Working Papers 7834, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Moretti, Enrico, 2004. "Estimating the social return to higher education: evidence from longitudinal and repeated cross-sectional data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 175-212.
  3. Paul Almeida & Bruce Kogut, 1999. "Localization of Knowledge and the Mobility of Engineers in Regional Networks," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 45(7), pages 905-917, July.
  4. Acemoglu, Daron, 1996. "A Microfoundation for Social Increasing Returns in Human Capital Accumulation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(3), pages 779-804, August.
  5. Daron Acemoglu & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1998. "Beyond Becker: Training in Imperfect Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 6740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bruce Fallick & Charles A. Fleischman, 2004. "Employer-to-employer flows in the U.S. labor market: the complete picture of gross worker flows," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-34, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Enrico Moretti, 2004. "Workers' Education, Spillovers, and Productivity: Evidence from Plant-Level Production Functions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 656-690, June.
  8. Michael Porter, 2003. "The Economic Performance of Regions," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(6-7), pages 549-578.
  9. Acemoglu, Daron, 1997. "Training and Innovation in an Imperfect Labour Market," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 445-64, July.
  10. Julio J. Rotemberg & Garth Saloner, 1990. "Competition and Human Capital Accumulation: A Theory of Interregional Specialization and Trade," NBER Working Papers 3228, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Ajay Agrawal & Iain Cockburn & John McHale, 2003. "Gone But Not Forgotten: Labor Flows, Knowledge Spillovers, and Enduring Social Capital," NBER Working Papers 9950, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 2001. "How Large are Human-Capital Externalities? Evidence from Compulsory-Schooling Laws," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15, pages 9-74 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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