Whom do new firms hire?

Posted: April 28th, 2015 | Filed under: Front, Research, Working Papers | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Whom do new firms hire?

Michael S. Dahl and Steven Klepper

This paper was first drafted during my visit at Carnegie Mellon University in the Winter and Spring of 2007. For the following year, Steve and I continuously revised the paper, but never got to submit it to a journal together. When Steve passed away, I updated the paper with new data and analysis, while keeping the paper in the spirit of the theory and ideas that we developed back in 2007. In this process, I received valuable feedback from Peter Thompson, Olav Sorenson, and Guido Buenstorf.

Two versions of this paper now exists:

  • The last joint version (September 2008), which is available on SSRN.
  • My revised version (April 2015), which has been accepted for publication in Industrial and Corporate Change (out now, June 2015). Download here.

The new version is out in a special issue to be published in the honor of Steve’s work and strong influence on our field.

Abstract: Using the matched employer-employee data set for Denmark and information on the founders of new firms, we analyze the hiring choices of all new firms that entered from 2003 to 2010. We develop a theoretical model in which the quality of a firm’s employees determines its average cost, a firm’s productivity is based on its pre-entry experience and persistent shocks, and over time firms learn about their productivity. The model predicts that more productive firms are larger and hire more talented employees, which gives rise to various predictions about how pre-entry experience, firm growth rates, and firm size influence the wages firms pay to their early hires. We find that beginning with the time of entry, larger firms consistently pay higher wages to their new hires. These are firms with greater survival prospects at the time of entry based on the pre-entry backgrounds of their founders and that grow at greater rates over time, both of which are predictive of the wages paid to new hires from the time of entry onward. Our findings suggest workers are allocated to firms according to their abilities, which can give rise to enduring firm capabilities.


Entrepreneurial Couples

Posted: March 3rd, 2014 | Filed under: Front, Research, Working Papers | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Entrepreneurial Couples

Michael S. Dahl, Mirjam Van Praag and Peter Thompson

We study possible motivations for co-entrepenurial couples to start up a joint firm, using a sample of 1,069 Danish couples that established a joint enterprise between 2001 and 2010. We compare their pre-entry characteristics, firm performance and post-dissolution private and financial outcomes with a selected set of comparable firms and couples. We find evidence that couples often establish a business together because one spouse – most commonly the female – has limited outside opportunities in the labor market. However, the financial benefits for each of the spouses, and especially the female, are larger in co-entrepreneurial firms, both during the life of the business and post-dissolution. The start-up of co-entrepreneurial firms seems therefore a sound investment in the human capital of both spouses as well as in the reduction of income ine-quality in the household. We find no evidence of non-pecuniary benefits or costs of co-entrepreneurship.

Download working paper on SSRN


Home Sweet Home: Entrepreneurs’ Location Choices and the Performance of Their Ventures

Posted: April 28th, 2010 | Filed under: Front, Research | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Home Sweet Home: Entrepreneurs’ Location Choices and the Performance of Their Ventures

Michael S. Dahl and Olav Sorenson

Entrepreneurs, even more than employees, tend to locate in regions in which they have deep roots (‘home’ regions). Here, we examine the performance implications of these choices. Whereas one might expect entrepreneurs to perform better in these regions because of their richer endowments of regionally-embedded social capital, they might also perform worse if their location choices rather reflect a preference for spending time with family and friends. We examine this question using comprehensive data on Danish startups. Ventures perform better – survive longer and generate greater annual profits and cash flows – when located in regions in which their founders have lived longer. This effect appears substantial, similar in size to the value of prior experience in the industry (i.e. to being a spinoff).

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