(how) Do Risky Perks Benefit Firms? the Case of Unlimited Vacation

Jiayi Bao (The Wharton School)

Abstract : This paper addresses a popular trend in technology companies and startups of offering unlimited vacation as an employee perk. I examine whether unlimited vacation benefits firms, the mechanisms, and the contingencies based on organizational conditions in three empirical settings. Using a combination of text analysis of online reviews, difference-in-differences regression of archival data at a high-tech company, and randomized controlled experiments with online workers, I find that the perk leads to more vacation time, higher subjective productivity, and increased overall labor efficiency. These effects involve multiple mechanisms (sorting, productivity, and engagement) and are contingent on social dynamics, bundled HR practices, and the culture for punishing under-performance.

Do Generous Parental Leave Policies Help Top Female Earners?

Astrid Kunze (Norwegian School of Economics)
Gozde Corekcioglu (Kadir Has University)
Marco Francesconi (University of Essex)

Abstract : Generous government-mandated parental leave is generally viewed as an effective policy to support women’s careers around childbirth. But does it help women to reach top positions in the upper pay echelon of their firms? Using longitudinal employer-employee matched data for the entire Norwegian population, we address this question exploiting a series of reforms that expanded paid leave from 30 weeks in 1989 to 52 weeks in 1993. The representation of women in top positions has only moderately increased over time, and career profiles of female top earners within firms are significantly different from those of their male counterparts. The reforms did not affect, and possibly decreased, the probability for women to be at the top over their life cycle. We discuss some implications of this result to put into perspective the design of new family-friendly policy interventions.

Gender Diversity in Corporate Boards: Evidence from Quota-implied Discontinuities

Olga Kuzmina (New Economic School and CEPR )
Valentina Melentyeva (ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Researc)

Abstract : We use data across European corporate boards to investigate the effects of quota-induced female representation, under minimal possible identification assumptions. We find that having more women in board causally increases Tobin's Q, despite some negative effects on operating performance and more likely employment downsizings. We interpret this evidence as firms scaling down inefficient operations. Our results highlight that gender quotas are not necessarily a costly way of promoting equality.

General Human Capital Transfer and Relational Strength in Alternative Work Arrangements

Thomaz Teodorovicz (Harvard University)
Anita McGahan (University of Toronto)
Sérgio Lazzarini (Insper)
Sandro Cabral (Insper)

Abstract : In the “future of work”, traditional employment may be substituted by alternative, and short-term, work arrangements. This trend may preclude a firm’s ability to capture value from human capital investments. In this paper, we explore whether a “relational” role of general human capital transfer may alleviate such challenge. We argue that transferring general human capital creates relational capital between firm and worker. This transfer may align supply and demand-side incentives to transfer human capital. Using highly-detailed datasets from a large direct sales company, we find that firm-sponsored general training increases performance and duration of an alternative work arrangement. Further, results from a small-scale field experiment suggest that a relational framing outperforms firm-specific or general framings in terms of incentivizing demand and supply of human capital.