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Promotion, Turnover, and Discretionary Human Capital Acquisition

Listed author(s):
  • Scoones, David
  • Bernhardt, Dan

This article explores human capital acquisition decisions when job placement helps determine competition for a worker. With asymmetric information, workers may invest in firm-specific capital without long-term contracts. Specific investment increases promotion chances (and hence wage competition), shifting competition back to a time when firms are symmetrically uninformed. If general human capital is the efficient (output-maximizing) investment, then an equivalent firm-specific investment maximizes expected career wages. This is a general result for sellers in second-price auctions: sellers (of labor) invest to maximize the expected second-highest bidder valuation (wage), not the winner's expected valuation. Copyright 1998 by University of Chicago Press.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/209884
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Labor Economics.

Volume (Year): 16 (1998)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 122-141

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:16:y:1998:i:1:p:122-41
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  1. Dan Bernhardt, 1995. "Strategic Promotion and Compensation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(2), pages 315-339.
  2. Gary S. Becker, 1962. "Investment in Human Capital: A Theoretical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 1-9.
  3. Levine, David I, 1993. "Worth Waiting For? Delayed Compensation, Training, and Turnover in the United States and Japan," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(4), pages 724-752, October.
  4. Bernhardt, Dan & Timmis, Gerald C, 1990. "Multiperiod Wage Contracts and Productivity Profiles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(4), pages 529-563, October.
  5. Paul Milgrom & Sharon Oster, 1987. "Job Discrimination, Market Forces, and the Invisibility Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(3), pages 453-476.
  6. Michael Waldman, 1984. "Job Assignments, Signalling, and Efficiency," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(2), pages 255-267, Summer.
  7. Brown, James N, 1989. "Why Do Wages Increase with Tenure? On-the-Job Training and Life-Cycle Wage Growth Observed within Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 971-991, December.
  8. Barth, Erling, 1997. "Firm-Specific Seniority and Wages," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 495-506, July.
  9. Scoones, David, 2000. "Matching and competition for human capital," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 135-152, March.
  10. Robert H. Topel & Michael P. Ward, 1992. "Job Mobility and the Careers of Young Men," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 439-479.
  11. Chun Chang & Wang, Yijiang, 1995. "A framework for understanding differences in labor turnover and human capital investment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 91-105, September.
  12. Canice Prendergast, 1993. "The Role of Promotion in Inducing Specific Human Capital Acquisition," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 523-534.
  13. Topel, Robert H, 1991. "Specific Capital, Mobility, and Wages: Wages Rise with Job Seniority," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 145-176, February.
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