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


The Migration of Technical Workers – Out now

Posted: November 27th, 2009 | Filed under: Front, Journal Papers, Research | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on The Migration of Technical Workers – Out now

Michael S. Dahl and Olav Sorenson

Using panel data on the Danish population, we estimated the revealed preferences of scientists and engineers for the places in which they choose to work. Our results indicate that these technical workers exhibit substantial sensitivity to differences in wages but that they have even stronger preferences for living close to family and friends. The magnitude of these preferences, moreover, suggests that the greater geographic mobility of scientists and engineers, relative to the population as a whole, stems from more pronounced variation across regions in the wages that they can expect. These results remain robust to estimation on a sample of individuals who must select new places of work for reasons unrelated to their preferences—those who had been employed at establishments that discontinued operations.

Michael S. Dahl and Olav Sorenson (2010) “The migration of technical workers”,Journal of Urban Economics, Vol. 67 (1), pp. 33-45 [DOI Link]


Whom do new firms hire?

Posted: September 4th, 2008 | Filed under: Front, Research, Working Papers | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Whom do new firms hire?

Michael S. Dahl and Steven Klepper

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 in 1995-2001. 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.


The Social Attachment to Place

Posted: July 5th, 2008 | Filed under: Front, Journal Papers, Research | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on The Social Attachment to Place

Michael S. Dahl and Olav Sorenson

Many theories either implicitly or explicitly assume that individuals readily move to locations that improve their financial well being. Other forces, however, counteract these tendencies; for example, people often wish to remain close to family and friends. We introduce a methodology for determining how individuals weight these countervailing forces, and estimate how both financial incentives and social factors influence the probability of geographic mobility in the Danish population from 2002 to 2003. Our results suggest that individuals respond to opportunities for higher pay elsewhere, but that their sensitivity to this factor pales in comparison to their preferences for living near family and friends.

Social Forces, Vol. 89, No. 2, December 2010, DOI link to paper