IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Exploration for human capital: Theory and evidence from the MBA labor market

  • Kuhnen, Camelia M.
  • Oyer, Paul

Drawing on insights from corporate finance and personnel economics, we show that firms consider potential employees using a real options approach, much as they do when making other types of capital investment decisions. Theoretically we find that firms’ hiring decisions are influenced by the uncertainty in workers’ productivity, competition in the labor market, adjustment costs, and redeployability concerns. Firms value probationary employment arrangements that provide the option to learn about the productivity of potential hires before permanent investment occurs. Higher uncertainty and adjustment costs hinder permanent investment and increase the value of the option to learn. Greater competition for workers speeds up firm investment and increases the value of probationary employment. Higher worker redeployability leads to more investment, if firms face sufficiently low competition. We test and confirm these predictions empirically using a novel dataset with detailed recruiting information from the labor market for MBA graduates.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: original version
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 39411.

in new window

Date of creation: 08 Jun 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:39411
Contact details of provider: Postal: Schackstr. 4, D-80539 Munich, Germany
Phone: +49-(0)89-2180-2219
Fax: +49-(0)89-2180-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Lisa B. Kahn & Fabian Lange, 2014. "Employer Learning, Productivity, and the Earnings Distribution: Evidence from Performance Measures," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(4), pages 1575-1613.
  2. Maia Güell & Barbara Petrongolo, 2003. "How binding are legal limits? Transitions from temporary to permanent work in Spain," Economics Working Papers 682, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jul 2005.
  3. repec:oup:qjecon:v:101:y:1986:i:4:p:707-27 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Christopher Avery & Christine Jolls & Richard Posner & Alvin E. Roth, 2007. "The New Market for Federal Judicial Law Clerks," NBER Working Papers 13213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Abel, Andrew B., 1952-, 1995. "Options, the value of capital, and investment," Working papers 3843-95., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  6. repec:oup:qjecon:v:114:y:1999:i:1:p:185-227 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Michael Waldman, 1984. "Job Assignments, Signalling, and Efficiency," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(2), pages 255-267, Summer.
  8. Lewis Segal & Daniel Sullivan, 1996. "The growth of temporary services work," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-96-26, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  9. Susan N. Houseman, . "Why Employers Use Flexible Staffing Arrangements: Evidence from an Establishment Survey," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles snh2001, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  10. Oriana Bandiera & Luigi Guiso & Andrea Prat & Raffaella Sadun, 2012. "Matching Firms, Managers, and Incentives," CEP Discussion Papers dp1144, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  11. Booth, Alison L. & Francesconi, Marco & Frank, Jeff, 2000. "Temporary Jobs: Stepping Stones or Dead Ends?," IZA Discussion Papers 205, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Marko Tervio, 2008. "The Difference That CEOs Make: An Assignment Model Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 642-68, June.
  13. repec:oup:qjecon:v:111:y:1996:i:3:p:753-77 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Parent, Daniel, 2000. "Industry-Specific Capital and the Wage Profile: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(2), pages 306-23, April.
  15. Paul Oyer, 2008. "The Making of an Investment Banker: Stock Market Shocks, Career Choice, and Lifetime Income," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(6), pages 2601-2628, December.
  16. repec:oup:qjecon:v:111:y:1996:i:4:p:1007-47 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Christopher R. Cunningham, 2007. "Growth Controls, Real Options, and Land Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 343-358, May.
  18. Goldin, Claudia D. & Bertrand, Marianne & Katz, Lawrence F., 2010. "Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Financial and Corporate Sectors," Scholarly Articles 8810041, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  19. repec:oup:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:3:p:1075-1103 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Kuhnen, Camelia M., 2010. "Searching for Jobs: Evidence from MBA Graduates," MPRA Paper 21975, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  21. Muriel Niederle & Alvin E. Roth, 2003. "Unraveling Reduces Mobility in a Labor Market: Gastroenterology with and without a Centralized Match," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1342-1352, December.
  22. Jonathan B. Berk & Richard Stanton & Josef Zechner, 2007. "Human Capital, Bankruptcy and Capital Structure," NBER Working Papers 13014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Li, Hao & Rosen, Sherwin, 1998. "Unraveling in Matching Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 371-87, June.
  24. Steven R. Grenadier & Andrey Malenko, 2010. "A Bayesian Approach to Real Options: The Case of Distinguishing between Temporary and Permanent Shocks," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(5), pages 1949-1986, October.
  25. Brennan, Michael J & Schwartz, Eduardo S, 1985. "Evaluating Natural Resource Investments," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(2), pages 135-57, April.
  26. Laarni Bulan & Christopher J. Mayer & C. Tsuriel Somerville, 2006. "Irreversible Investment, Real Options, and Competition: Evidence from Real Estate Development," NBER Working Papers 12486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. repec:oup:qjecon:v:103:y:1988:i:3:p:479-508 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Steven R. Grenadier, 2002. "Option Exercise Games: An Application to the Equilibrium Investment Strategies of Firms," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 15(3), pages 691-721.
  29. Wallace Hendricks & Lawrence DeBrock & Roger Koenker, 2003. "Uncertainty, Hiring, and Subsequent Performance: The NFL Draft," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(4), pages 857-886, October.
  30. Paige Ouimet & Rebecca Zarutskie, 2011. "Acquiring Labor," Working Papers 11-32, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  31. Andrea L. Eisfeldt & Dimitris Papanikolaou, 2013. "Organization Capital and the Cross-Section of Expected Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 68(4), pages 1365-1406, 08.
  32. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-90, October.
  33. Ron Kaniel & Cade Massey & David T. Robinson, 2010. "The Importance of Being an Optimist: Evidence from Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 16328, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  34. Williams, Joseph T, 1993. "Equilibrium and Options on Real Assets," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 6(4), pages 825-50.
  35. repec:oup:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:1:p:49-100 is not listed on IDEAS
  36. Titman, Sheridan, 1985. "Urban Land Prices under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 505-14, June.
  37. Alberto Moel, 2002. "When Are Real Options Exercised? An Empirical Study of Mine Closings," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 15(1), pages 35-64, March.
  38. Neal, Derek, 1995. "Industry-Specific Human Capital: Evidence from Displaced Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(4), pages 653-77, October.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:39411. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ekkehart Schlicht)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.