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Fighting for Talent: Risk-Taking, Corporate Volatility, and Organizational Change


  • Mariassunta Giannetti

    (University of Toulouse (EHESS and IDEI) and CEPR)

  • Guido Friebel

    (Stockholm School of Economics CEPR and ECGI)


During the nineties, talented workers began to spurn secure jobs in large organizations, which were formerly considered prestigious. They developed more positive attitudes towards jobs in small, innovative startups, although these involved less job security. We build a model that identifies some of the economic forces behind the shift in the supply for talent from large to small firms. Small firms with little capital at stake take excessive risk. They realize more of their workers' risky ideas, which allows to poach creative workers from better capitalized firms. We show that small firms' advantage in attracting creative workers emerges if ideas have ex ante positive net present value and increases if workers can smooth consumption through financial markets. As small firms take excessive risk, average enterprise profitability in the affected sectors decreases, while bankruptcy increases. Moreover, large firms react through inefficient organizational changes. We also provide some empirical evidence consistent with the implications of our theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Mariassunta Giannetti & Guido Friebel, 2007. "Fighting for Talent: Risk-Taking, Corporate Volatility, and Organizational Change," 2007 Meeting Papers 263, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed007:263

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