Why Is This Worth It? Recruiting Talent for Early-stage Ventures: An Online Experiment on Startup Job Ads

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


    Startup’s employees, labeled “joiners”, are an important resource for business success and their recruitment is a critical task. Compared to incumbents, startups have a harder time to recruit employees due to a lack of legitimacy and resources. Therefore, startups often use rhetorical strategies to convey the necessary information. However, earlier literature studying the processes attracting joiners to startups assumed perfect information between founders and joiners, overlooking the role information about the startup may have on the joiners’ tendency to apply. We argue that startups can convey two types of messages. A message can be substantive, i.e., tightly related to the quality of the firm; or it can be ceremonial, i.e., loosely related to the quality of the firm. We further theorize that these messages can have different impacts on joiners with different tastes for risk and job characteristics. We test our predictions using an online framed field experiment. We recruit 160 American respondents who are randomly assigned to a job ad that has been manipulated to represent two treatments. One treatment is the substantive message and another treatment is the ceremonial message. Our results partially confirm our hypotheses but show that substantive and ceremonial messages are different and have differential effects on different types of joiners. We further discuss implications for startups’ recruitment strategies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2018
    Number of pages39
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    EventDRUID Academy Conference 2018 - University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
    Duration: 17 Jan 201819 Jan 2018


    ConferenceDRUID Academy Conference 2018
    LocationUniversity of Southern Denmark
    Internet address

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