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Careers in organizations: Theory and evidence

In: Handbook of Labor Economics


  • Gibbons, Robert
  • Waldman, Michael


We survey the theoretical literature on careers in organizations, focusing on models that address detailed evidence or stylized facts. We begin with what we call building-block models: human-capital acquisition, job assignment, incentive contracting, efficiency wages, and tournaments. We then show how these building blocks can be combined and enriched to address various aspects of careers. We first focus on applied models aimed at outcomes familiar from labor economics: wage growth in the absence of promotions, promotions used for job assignment, promotions used to provide incentives, and separation. We then consider topics more often discussed in human resource management and organization theory than in labor economics: politics, social relations, and work practices. We end by reviewing three models that address broad patterns of detailed evidence rather than a few stylized facts.

Suggested Citation

  • Gibbons, Robert & Waldman, Michael, 1999. "Careers in organizations: Theory and evidence," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 36, pages 2373-2437, Elsevier.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labchp:3-36

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    JEL classification:

    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General


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