Research Summary

Working Papers

by Dennis A. Yao



Lewis, Tracy R. and Dennis A. Yao. (2001, revised 2006). "Innovation, Knowledge Flow, and Worker Mobility."

  • Abstract: In knowledge-driven industrial markets employee turnover is often quite high despite each firm’s interest in restricting knowledge flow resulting from employee departures. We present a dynamic contracting and matching model of the employment relationship between a firm and a worker (engineer) that provides an equilibrium explanation for high turnover. Incompleteness of the contracting relationship makes it optimal for firms to adopt open R&D environments as a recruitment inducement when labor is in relatively short supply. Such environments facilitate turnover. We examine how openness of R&D environments varies according to labor market conditions, expected quality of initial firm-employee match, legal protection of IP, and the longevity of the product cycle. These results are useful for understanding why geographic clusters often foster innovation.