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Mentoring and Diversity

INSEAD Working Paper No. 98-2; and MIT Dept. of Economics Research Paper No. 98-2

36 Pages Posted: 15 May 1998  

Susan Athey

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Christopher Avery

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Peter B. Zemsky

INSEAD - Strategy; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 27, 1997

Abstract

This paper studies the forces which determine how diversity at a firm evolves over time. We consider a dynamic model of a single firm with two levels of employees, the entry level and the upper level. In each period, the firm selects a subset of the entry-level workers for promotion to the upper level. The members of the entry-level worker pool vary in their initial ability as well as in their "type," where type could refer to gender or cultural background. Employees augment their initial ability by acquiring specific human capital in mentoring interactions with upper level employees. We assume that an entry-level worker receives more mentoring when a greater proportion of upper-level workers match the entry-level worker's type. In this model, it is optimal for the firm to consider type in addition to ability in making promotion decisions, so as to maximize the effectiveness of future mentoring. We derive conditions under which firms attain full diversity, as well as conditions under which there are multiple steady states, so that the level of diversity depends on the firm's initial conditions. With multiple steady states, temporary affirmative action policies can have a long-run impact on diversity levels.

JEL Classification: D21, D22, J15, J41

Suggested Citation

Athey, Susan and Avery, Christopher and Zemsky, Peter B., Mentoring and Diversity (December 27, 1997). INSEAD Working Paper No. 98-2; and MIT Dept. of Economics Research Paper No. 98-2. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=86649 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.86649

Susan Carleton Athey

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

Christopher Avery

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-4063 (Phone)
617-496-1722 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Peter B. Zemsky (Contact Author)

INSEAD - Strategy ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
77305 Fontainebleau
France
+33 1 60 72 4162 (Phone)
+31 1 60 74 5500 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

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