Refugee Human Capital and Firm Performance

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The availability of employment is a central determinant for addressing the refugee crisis in many host countries. Extant management research largely assumes that hiring refugees is part of firms’ social responsibility since the knowledge and skills of refugees are too generic to produce positive performance effects. We challenge this perspective and offer a theoretical logic for how the generic human capital of refugees results in superior performance for the hiring firm. We theorize that the performance potentials from hiring refugees emerge because of value capture mechanisms. Within our reasoning, refugees have limited opportunities to bargain for higher salaries, due to demand frictions stemming from uncertainty, stereotypes, or discrimination by other potential employers. Moreover, we theorize that firm-specific incentives make employers that offer job security and social connections more appealing to refugees and, thus, enable their employers to capture value from their generic human capital. In line with our theoretical predictions, we find, for 176,792 firms and 10,338 refugees between 2001 and 2016 in Denmark, that firms hiring refugees have higher profitability and this effect is amplified for employers offering job security and the opportunity for bonding relationships with refugee co-workers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Eighty-First Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
EditorsSonia Taneja
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationBriarcliff Manor, NY
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication date2021
Article number1021
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2021: Bringing the Manager Back in Management - Online, Virtual, Online
Duration: 29 Jul 20214 Aug 2021
Conference number: 81


ConferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2021
CityVirtual, Online
Internet address
SeriesAcademy of Management Proceedings


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