I am a professor of human resources at Goethe University in Frankfurt. My courses on Bachelor, Master, MBA and PhD level focus on how to make organizations more efficient while increasing the welfare of workers.
My research is on human resources, organizational and personnel economics. I carry out randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with and within firms and analyze observational career and promotion data. I also do applied theory on careers and talent management. My second main field of interest is how institutions shape the accumulation and allocation of human capital, focusing on problems of families, gender, and migration.
I am a fellow at CEPR, IZA, and a VP of SIOE, a founding member of the Organizational Economics Committee of the German Economic Association (VfS), a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Sciences Po, and of ConTrust at Goethe University. I am also Scientific Director of CLBO.
Before joining Goethe, I held positions at the Toulouse School of Economics and EHESS, and at SITE, Stockholm School of Economics.
CEPR Discussion Paper 17525
Terrorism and Voting: The Rise of Right-Wing Populism in Germany (with Marius Liebald and Navid Sabet)
Can terrorism shift the political landscape of a nation? Exploiting quasi-random variation between successful and failed terror attacks across German municipalities, we find that successful attacks lead to significant increases in the vote share for the right-wing, populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party in state elections. Successful attacks lead to differential increases in turnout which are mainly captured by the AfD; by contrast, the vote share for the ruling party decreases significantly. Using the German SOEP, a longitudinal panel of individuals, we find that people who reside in municipalities that experience successful attacks identify as more right-wing, prefer the AfD more and the ruling party less, and are more worried about migration and social cohesion. These results hold despite the fact that most attacks are targeted against migrants by right-wing nationalists. The AfD responds to attacks by speaking more about asylum, crime and Islam in its election manifestos at the state level. All other parties shift in the opposite direction.
International Migration and Illegal Costs: Evidence from Africa-to-Europe Smuggling Routes (with Miriam Manchin, Mariapia Mendola and Giovanni Prarolo), revise and resubmit at Journal of International Economics
The 2011 Arab Spring marked the opening of the Central Mediterranean Route for irregular border-crossings between Libya and Italy, which produced heterogeneous reductions of bilateral smuggling distances between African-European country pairs. We exploit this source of spatial and temporal variation in the length of irregular migration routes to estimate the elasticity of migration intentions for the whole African continent. We find substantial elasticities of migration intentions to reduction in distances, concentrated among young, medium-skilled individuals, those with an informative advantage (having a social network abroad/having a mobile phone) and coming from countries with weak rule of law.
Talent Management: the Role of Bosses (with Michael Raith), revise and resubmit at Journal of Labor Economics
Managers (“bosses”) are central to the development and allocation of human capital in firms (“talent management”) because they train employees and learn about their abilities. While a multi-divisional firm wants to allocate workers to wherever they are most productive, bosses who are rewarded for their own unit’s performance prefer to hold on to good employees, and the prospect of losing good people weakens the incentives to train them. We derive the optimal incentive contract that enables a firm to change from “silos” with only upward mobility to a “talent market” with cross-divisional mobility, and relate our model and its results to examples and evidence.
The 30 Years’ War and Violent Crime in the Late 19th Century (with Matthias Heinz, Stefan Pasch and Navid Sabet), forthcoming Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization
We introduce a unique data set of estimated population losses in Germany as a result of the 30 Years’ War (30 YW), fought between 1618 and 1648, which we match to German counties as defined in 1900. We find that counties with larger population losses experience significantly more youth assault crimes in 1900. To support a more causal interpretation of our results, we identify a set of counterfactual counties via propensity score matching. On this matched sample, we find that a county’s 30 YW population losses are largely unrelated to a wide range of pre-30 YW social, economic, geographic and religious characteristics, indicating that our result is driven by differential exposure to the violence of the war and not by pre-existing county differences. Although, owing to the historical nature of our data, it is difficult to uncover precise mechanisms, we present additional evidence that suggests 30 YW population losses lead to a general deterioration of county social and economic conditions over time: Differential exposure to the violence of the war led otherwise similar counties to experience more conflict following the 30 YW as well as higher rates of child mortality, less welfare expenditure, and increases in suicides some 250 years later.
Incentives to Discover Talent (with Tobias Brünner, Richard Holden and Suraj Prasad), The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Volume 38, Issue 2, July 2022, Pages 309–344:
We study an agent’s incentives to discover where her talents lie before putting them to productive use. In our setting, an agent can specialize and learn about the same type of talent repeatedly, or experiment and learn about different types of talent. While experimentation is efficient for a range of distributions of talent and initial signals, labor-market institutions play a crucial role for individual incentives to experiment. Institutions that give the agent sufficiently large bargaining power, provide incentives for experimentation, but for weak bargaining power, agents specialize. We also look at how competition in the labor market, human capital accumulation, and correlation across talents affect incentives to experiment.
What do Employee Referral Programs (ERPs) Do? Measuring the Direct and Overall Effects of a Management Practice (with Matthias Heinz, Mitchell Hoffman and Nick Zubanov), forthcoming, Journal of Political Economy
Employee referral programs (ERPs) are randomly introduced in a grocery chain. On direct effects, larger referral bonuses increase referral quantity but decrease quality, though the increase in referrals from ERPs is modest. However, the overall effect of having an ERP is substantial, reducing attrition by 15% and significantly decreasing labor costs. This occurs, partly, because referrals stay longer than non-referrals, but, mainly, from indirect effects: non-referrals stay longer in treated than in control stores. The most-supported mechanism for these indirect effects is workers value being involved in hiring. Attrition impacts are larger in higher-performing stores and better local labor markets.
Underrepresentation of Women in the Economics Profession More Pronounced in the United States Compared to Heterogeneous Europe (with Emmanuelle Auriol, Alisa Weinberger and Sascha Wilhelm), PNAS
Based on a dataset that we collected from the top research institutions in economics around the globe (including universities, business schools, and other organizations, such as central banks), we document the underrepresentation of women in economics. For the 238 universities and business schools in the sample, women hold 25% of senior-level positions (full professor or associate professor) and 37% of junior-level positions. In the 82 US universities and business schools, the figures are 20% on the senior level and 32% on the entry level, while in the 122 European institutions, the numbers are 27% and 38%, respectively, with some heterogeneity across countries. The numbers also show that the highest-ranking institutions (in terms of research output) have fewer women in senior positions. Moreover, in the United States, this effect is even present on the junior level. The “leaky pipeline” may hence begin earlier than oftentimes assumed and is even more of an issue in the highly integrated market of the United States. In Europe, an institution ranked 100 places higher has 3 percentage points fewer women in senior positions, but in the United States, it is almost 5 percentage points.
The Long-term Consequences of a Pay Change (with Miriam Krüger), Journal of Labor Economics
In a professional services firm, top management unexpectedly adjusted the pay of consultants in some divisions to the pay in other divisions. In this quasi-experiment, fixed wages increased and bonuses decreased, reducing pay for the high and increasing it for the low performers. Individual outputs and efforts decreased by 30%, and attrition and absenteeism increased. The effects are driven by those who were rationally expecting to lose from the pay change. Observing a period of more than three years, we show long-term negative reciprocity of those affected, but no negative selection effects of new hires.