Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Management

First Advisor

Peter Cappelli

Second Advisor

Matthew Bidwell

Abstract

My dissertation focuses on how the market values different attributes of top managers and the role of market intermediaries in shaping firm and individual outcomes. I draw on a unique dataset from an executive search firm, which allows me to track the progress of nearly 1,700 top managers who emerged as candidates for around 400 executive roles spanning multiple industries. In Chapter 2, I explore the mixed signals sent by the frequency of moves between employers and tenure with their current employer at the time a candidate is being considered for a senior management job with a new employer. I argue that while frequently changing employer may decrease a candidate’s attractiveness to potential employers by signaling that the candidate is a serial job hopper, it may also increase attractiveness by signaling the accumulation of a breadth of experience typically valued in top managers. Also, while potential employers may view longer tenure with a current employer as a negative signal regarding a candidate’s level of cultural flexibility and adaptability, it may also provide opportunities for upward mobility with the firm, which is a visible signal of competence. I find empirical support for these relationships. In Chapter 3, I use the topic modeling technique to parse job descriptions to understand how clients’ preferences affect candidate selection and explore gender prejudice. I find evidence that is line with role congruity theory, as firms are more likely to select male candidates when agentic qualities are emphasized. In Chapter 4, I investigate how employee mobility affects the broker (the executive search firm) who has facilitated the process, specifically in its ability to work for the firm that lost its employee to the broker’s client. The effect I find is positive and is stronger for poached firms that are located outside the city where the search firm is located, suggesting that the poaching event may help the search firm increase its saliency towards its potential clients. These studies together provide a better understanding of the executive labor market and the role of market intermediary.

Available for download on Monday, April 22, 2019

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