Contingent Employment and Innovation

86 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2019 Last revised: 11 May 2022

See all articles by Sunwoo Hwang

Sunwoo Hwang

Korea University Business School

Date Written: November 6, 2019


Using novel indirect employment data and a Supreme Court ruling against subcontracted employment, this paper shows that contingent employment of skilled labor reduces innovation. Innovation increases after establishments convert subcontracted workers into direct hires compared to the establishments that did not use subcontracted workers before the ruling. The finding is without a simultaneous increase in operating leverage, R&D, and capital intensity and conditional on compensation schemes that reward employees for their investment in firm-specific skills and long-term performance. New hires do not innovate more. New inventors, including former subcontracted workers, create more and better patents, yet only through collaboration with existing inventors, who also create more and better non-collaborative patents. Furthermore, a positive spillover follows that innovation-associated voluntary employee departure increases.

Keywords: contingent workforce, innovation incentive, human capital, entrepreneurship

JEL Classification: J41, J46, L26, O31

Suggested Citation

Hwang, Sunwoo, Contingent Employment and Innovation (November 6, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Sunwoo Hwang (Contact Author)

Korea University Business School ( email )

Korea, Republic of (South Korea)


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