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The Value of Hiring through Employee Referrals

Author

Listed:
  • Stephen V. Burks
  • Bo Cowgill
  • Mitchell Hoffman
  • Michael Housman

Abstract

Using personnel data from nine large firms in three industries (call centers, trucking, and high-tech), we empirically assess the benefit to firms of hiring through employee referrals. Compared to nonreferred applicants, referred applicants are more likely to be hired and more likely to accept offers, even though referrals and nonreferrals have similar skill characteristics. Referred workers tend to have similar productivity compared to nonreferred workers on most measures, but referred workers have lower accident rates in trucking and produce more patents in high-tech. Referred workers are substantially less likely to quit and earn slightly higher wages than nonreferred workers. In call centers and trucking, the two industries for which we can calculate worker-level profits, referred workers yield substantially higher profits per worker than nonreferred workers. These profit differences are driven by lower turnover and lower recruiting costs for referrals. JEL Codes: J24, M51, J30, J63.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen V. Burks & Bo Cowgill & Mitchell Hoffman & Michael Housman, 2015. "The Value of Hiring through Employee Referrals," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(2), pages 805-839.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:130:y:2015:i:2:p:805-839
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/qje/qjv010
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs

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