Economics Seminar Series: Colleen F. Manchester, University of Minnesota

Title: Learning Through the Lens of Your Job: Variation in the Acquisition of Firm-Specific Skills Across Employees

2017.05.15 | Bodil Westermann Krog

Date Tue 26 Sep
Time 14:15 15:30
Location Fuglesangs Allé 4, 8210 Aarhus V, building 2632(L), room 242

Speaker: Colleen F. Manchester, University of Minnesota

Title: Learning Through the Lens of Your Job: Variation in the Acquisition of Firm-Specific Skills Across Employees (with Qianyun Xie, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)

Abstract: This paper proposes that employees play an active role in skill accumulation such that, within a given training environment, different employees may acquire different skills. Further, these skills may systematically differ in the extent to which they are firm-specific as opposed to general. Drawing on research from identity economics as well as outside of economics, we argue that attitudes towards one’s employer may shape skill acquisition. Namely, employees with greater psychological attachment to their employer may acquire relatively more firm-specific skills as compared to employees with lower attachment. Data from a sample of employees pursuing a part-time Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree support this relationship. We find that those with greater psychological attachment are more likely to select elective courses within the MBA program that are related to their current job as compared to those with lower attachment. Further, we find that employees with greater psychological attachment are more likely to report that MBA coursework leads to the accumulation of firm-specific skills relative to those with low psychological attachment; this finding is largely explained by differences in the extent to which employees draw on their current employment context in their coursework.

Organizers: Marcel Smolka and Jonas Maibom

Economics Seminar Series