Looking to the Future

Peter D. Sherer

in The Oxford Handbook of Human Capital

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199532162
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management

Looking to the Future

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  • Business and Management
  • Organizational Theory and Behaviour
  • Human Resource Management


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This article examines how human capital is transferred across organizations in a population, by looking at the case of US corporate-law firms. Remarking on the lack of linkage between Becker's notion of general and firm-specific human capital (HC) and the organizational literature on inter-firm movement of talent, it discusses how these literatures may be reconciled and how synthesizing HC and organizational perspectives can bring HC deeper into organizational theory. The article looks to the future with the idea of bringing organizations deeper into HC theory. From an organizational-process perspective, it suggests that two alternative processes may occur when HC is transferred from one firm to another: Relocation, when general HC is transferred; and Replication, when firm-specific human capital is transferred. The article helps to appreciate both the value and the limitations of Becker's distinction between general and firm-specific human capital.

Keywords: corporate law; human capital; organizational theory; Relocation; Replication

Article.  10986 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour ; Human Resource Management

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