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The singularity of the German doctorate as a signal for talent: Causes, consequences and future developments

  • Egon Franck
  • Christian Opitz

    ()

    (Institute for Strategy and Business Economics, University of Zurich
    Technical University of Freiberg)

Internationally unparalleled fractions of doctoral degree holders among German top managers and superior career perspectives for German university graduates holding a doctoral degree suggest that the traditional German doctorate has not been primarily perceived as a specialized indicator for abilities to conduct research in a certain scientific field, but rather as an indicator for a more general form of human capital, which we refer to as talent. In order to convince on the labor market, educational credentials have to be validated somehow. We discuss alternative validation mechanisms which can be attributed to the higher education systems of the U.S., France, and Germany. By defining specific ”model educational paths” the problem of signal validation explains the singularity of the German doctorate. The educational paths of top managers in a sample of the 100 largest companies in these countries is consistent with our theoretical conjectures. A shift from the traditional German chair-based model in doctoral education to formal programs is likely to alter the signaling content of the German doctorate. Future options for signaling talent are closely tied to the reform of the German higher education system.

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File URL: http://repec.business.uzh.ch/RePEc/iso/ISU_WPS/28_ISU_full.pdf
File Function: First version, 2001
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Paper provided by University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU) in its series Working Papers with number 0028.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iso:wpaper:0028
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  1. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1973. "The Theory of 'Screening', Education, and the Distribution of Income," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 354, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  2. John G. Riley, 2001. "Silver Signals: Twenty-Five Years of Screening and Signaling," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(2), pages 432-478, June.
  3. Grubb, W. Norton, 1993. "Further tests of screening on education and observed ability," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 125-136, June.
  4. Gordon C. Winston, 1999. "Subsidies, Hierarchy and Peers: The Awkward Economics of Higher Education," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 13-36, Winter.
  5. Riley, John G, 1979. "Testing the Educational Screening Hypothesis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S227-52, October.
  6. Cohn, Elchanan & Kiker, B. F. & De Oliveira, M. Mendes, 1987. "Further evidence on the screening hypothesis," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 289-294.
  7. Arrow, Kenneth J., 1973. "Higher education as a filter," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 193-216, July.
  8. Rothschild, Michael & White, Lawrence J, 1995. "The Analytics of the Pricing of Higher Education and Other Services in Which the Customers Are Inputs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 573-86, June.
  9. Spence, A Michael, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-74, August.
  10. Katz, Eliakim & Ziderman, Adrian, 1980. "On education, screening and human capital," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 81-88.
  11. Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1977. "Education and Screening," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 949-58, December.
  12. Groot, Wim & Oosterbeek, Hessel, 1994. "Earnings Effects of Different Components of Schooling: Human Capital versus Screening," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(2), pages 317-21, May.
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