Complementary Human Capital and Post-Acquisition Employee Mobility

36 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2023

See all articles by Agnes Guenther

Agnes Guenther

University of Utah - Department of Entrepreneurship & Strategy

Date Written: March 15, 2023


Much of the literature on how acquisitions impact employee mobility has focused on the psychological consequences of acquisitions on employees. This study explores an alternative explanation of employee decisions to leave an acquired firm or not: potential changes in individuals’ post-acquisition productivity that would occur if the individual decided to leave the firm. It suggests that employees working in target firms with high levels of complementary human capital are less likely to leave post-acquisition because they may face difficulties in realizing the same level of productivity elsewhere, which reduces their ability to appropriate some of the value of their human capital. In line with the theorized mechanism, the relationship between the level of complementary human capital in a target firm pre-acquisition and employee post-acquisition mobility is attenuated by (1) the likelihood of complementary human capital being disrupted by the acquisition itself, (2) an employee’s reliance on her general human capital, and (3) her replaceability via the external labor market. Implications for the literature on acquisitions and on complementary human capital are discussed.

Keywords: Strategic Human Capital, Labor mobility, Acquisitions, Complementary Human Capital, Post-acquisition employee mobility, R&D workers, Linked employer-employee data

JEL Classification: J24, J63, J20, M50

Suggested Citation

Guenther, Agnes, Complementary Human Capital and Post-Acquisition Employee Mobility (March 15, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Agnes Guenther (Contact Author)

University of Utah - Department of Entrepreneurship & Strategy ( email )

1655 East Campus Center Dr.
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
United States

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