Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Discussion Paper Series in Economics,
Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics

No 2/2017: Organizational Design with Portable Skills.

Luca Picariello ()
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Luca Picariello: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH , Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway

Abstract: Workers can move across firms and take with them portable skills. This has an impact on how firms are organized and allocate tasks across workers. To reduce mobility, a profit maximizing firm may inefficiently allocate talented workers on tasks that reduce their outside option. In the existing literature, asymmetric information about workers' talents makes this retention strategy profitable, although inefficient. In this paper we let workers' skills be observable across firms, but task allocation to be non-contractible. Inefficient assignment of tasks to workers persists in this environment. We show that by organizing a firm as an equity-partnership, in which the total profit is shared, the efficient task allocation can be implemented and profit increased. This result is attained through shifting control rights to workers that become partners and decide over task allocation. Both partners and workers are retained in equilibrium. This paper provides a new rationale for the widespread presence of partnerships in human-capital intensive industries.

Keywords: Task Allocation; Retention; Compensation Contracts; Partnerships

JEL-codes: D86; J24; J54; M52

40 pages, February 12, 2017

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