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Christopher I. Rider and David Tan

Prior research implies a “retention imperative”: to sustain competitive advantage over rivals, employers must retain valuable human capital. We briefly review the genesis of this idea and then focus on recent research suggesting that employee departures – even those of highly-valued employees – can lead to favorable outcomes for employers. Integrating research from various literatures, we propose two key directions for future research on strategic human capital resources (SHCRs). First, we propose that SHCR researchers consider how employers are affected differently by three career choices faced by their employees: (1) remain with the employer, (2) change employers, and (3) engage in entrepreneurship. Second, we propose that SHCR researchers also develop theories of strategic trade-offs that integrate both pros and cons of employee departures for departed organizations. We focus specifically on labor market implications for each of these employee departure types.