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The Signaling Role of Not Being Promoted: Theory and Evidence

Jin, Xin (2014): The Signaling Role of Not Being Promoted: Theory and Evidence.

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Abstract

This article studies the negative signals associated with non-promotion. I first show theoretically that, when workers’ productivity rises little with additional years on the same job level, the negative signal associated with non-promotion leads to wage decreases. On the other hand, when additional job-level tenure leads to a sizable increase in productivity, workers’ wages increase. I test my model’s predictions using the personnel records from a large US firm from 1970-1988. I find a clear hump-shaped wage-job-tenure profile for workers who stay in the same job level, which supports my model’s prediction.

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