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The Firm as the Locus of Social Comparisons: Internal Labor Markets versus Up-or-Out

Author

Listed:
  • Auriol, Emmanuelle

    () (Toulouse School of Economics)

  • Friebel, Guido

    () (Goethe University Frankfurt)

  • Lammers, Frauke

    () (University of Bern)

Abstract

We suggest a parsimonious dynamic agency model in which workers have status concerns. A firm is a promotion hierarchy in which a worker's status depends on past performance. We investigate the optimality of two types of promotion hierarchies: (i) internal labor markets, in which agents have a job guarantee, and (ii) "up-or-out", in which agents are fired when unsuccessful. We show that up-or-out is optimal if success is difficult to achieve. When success is less hard to achieve, an internal labor market is optimal provided the payoffs associated with success are moderate. Otherwise, up-or-out is, again, optimal. These results are in line with observations from academia, law firms, investment banks and top consulting firms. Here, up-or-out dominates, while internal labor markets dominate where work is less demanding or payoffs are more compressed, for instance, because the environment is less competitive. We present some supporting evidence from academia, comparing US with French economics departments.

Suggested Citation

  • Auriol, Emmanuelle & Friebel, Guido & Lammers, Frauke, 2012. "The Firm as the Locus of Social Comparisons: Internal Labor Markets versus Up-or-Out," IZA Discussion Papers 6343, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6343
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    Cited by:

    1. Bosquet, Clément & Combes, Pierre-Philippe, 2013. "Do large departments make academics more productive? agglomeration and peer effects in research," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58306, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. repec:eee:juecon:v:101:y:2017:i:c:p:27-44 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Bosquet, Clément & Combes, Pierre-Philippe, 2017. "Sorting and agglomeration economies in French economics departments," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 27-44.
    4. Tim Friehe & Mario Mechtel & Markus Pannenberg, 2014. "Positional Income Concerns: Prevalence and Relationship with Personality and Economic Preferences," IAAEU Discussion Papers 201411, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).
    5. Bosquet, Clément & Combes, Pierre-Philippe, 2017. "Sorting and agglomeration economies in French economics departments," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 27-44.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    status; promotion hierarchies; incentives; sorting;

    JEL classification:

    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • M5 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior

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