New Horizons in Management series
Edited by George Saridakis and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 7: Inter- and intra-firm mobility of workers
In the following I will give a selective review of the theoretical and empirical research on the mobility of employees between and within firms and organizations. While labor migration, especially its international variety, has recently been the subject of large research efforts, studies of employee mobility at the level of firms are considerably less prevalent. My discussion is selective because it focuses primarily on research following an economic approach. What does that imply? It means that the analysis recognizes that in the longer term, mobility rates at the organizational level or individuals’ mobility decisions are driven by the markets for labor. Consequently, employers’ decisions to influence mobility and retention rates have to account for this and face some difficult trade-offs. Why should we care about mobility of employees between and within firms? After all, labor mobility has not been on the top of agenda recently. True, but that is likely to reflect the fact that mobility rates are lower during recessions, and in particular in prolonged and deep ones like the Great Recession. If there is a concern about mobility, it is about the lack thereof, which is claimed to give rise to structural unemployment. Below I will argue that employee mobility is likely to become an increasingly important issue in the future, and the main reasons for that are changes in the demographic structure of populations and workforces, and possibly also in the functioning of labor markets.
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