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

Author

Listed:
  • Egon Franck
  • Christian Opitz

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Egon Franck & Christian Opitz, 2004. "The singularity of the German doctorate as a signal for talent: Causes, consequences and future developments," Working Papers 0028, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU).
  • Handle: RePEc:iso:wpaper:0028
    as

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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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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975. "The Theory of "Screening," Education, and the Distribution of Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 283-300, June.
    2. 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.
    3. 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 573-586, June.
    4. Riley, John G, 1979. "Testing the Educational Screening Hypothesis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 227-252, October.
    5. 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.
    6. Katz, Eliakim & Ziderman, Adrian, 1980. "On education, screening and human capital," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 81-88.
    7. Arrow, Kenneth J., 1973. "Higher education as a filter," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 193-216, July.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1977. "Education and Screening," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 949-958, December.
    11. 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 317-321, May.
    12. Michael Spence, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-374.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations

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