Perceptions of Firm-Specific Human Capital: An empirical exploration
46 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2013 Last revised: 29 Oct 2014
Date Written: April 18, 2013
Drawing on human capital theory, strategy scholars have emphasized firm-specific human capital as a source of sustained competitive advantage. This study challenges some critical implicit assumptions of extant theory by exploring how workers actually think about firm-specificity. We test several theoretical predictions using longitudinal data from Korea and the United States. Contrary to extant theory, we find that organizational tenure and commitment are negatively related to workers’ reported firm-specificity of their skills. Consistent with this, we also find that employees in managerial occupations report that their skills are relatively less firm-specific. Employer provided on-the-job training was not significantly linked with employee reports of firm-specificity. This may call into question the assumed relationship between firm-specific skills and sustained competitive advantage. We offer explanations for these counterintuitive findings and discuss the implications for future theoretical and empirical work on firm-specificity.
Keywords: Human capital, firm-specificity, micro-foundations
JEL Classification: J24, J41, J3, J6
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation