Saturday, January 06, 2007

Economists, Hiring, and Productivity

Thanks to Danny Sokol of the University of Wisconsin for sending along a link to Paul Oyer's (Stanford Business School) important paper, Is There an Insider Advantage in Getting Tenure?, given at the American Economics Association. Oyer's paper begins:
At most universities there are two types of tenured economists – those that came to the school shortly after leaving graduate school (and were later promoted) and experienced economists that were hired with tenure. Conventional wisdom in academic circles suggests that it is easier to get tenure as an insider than it is to attract an offer as an outsider. That is, schools hold potential external senior hires to tougher standards than the requirements for promotion of the school’s junior professors.

In this paper, I take a first step towards showing that, at least for academic economists, there is an insider advantage. I analyze the research records of economists with ten years of experience and compare the productivity of those who recently changed employers (suggesting they were hired with tenure) to those that did not (suggesting internal promotion.) I show that the productivity of “outsiders” is higher than the productivity of “insiders” at all but the top 10 economics institutions in the world. The economic significance of the estimates is substantial, but the statistical precision suggests that more work is required to draw strong conclusions. Also, I focus on average productivity of all available insiders and outsiders whereas an ideal dataset would allow a direct comparison of marginal insiders and outsiders (that is, those that barely met the standard.)


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