Interpersonal Styles and Labor Market Outcomes
This paper develops a framework to understand the role of interpersonal interactions in the labor market including task assignment and wages. Effective interpersonal interactions involve caring, to establish cooperation, and at the same time directness, to communicate in an unambiguous way. The ability to perform these tasks varies with personality and the importance of these tasks varies across jobs. An assignment model shows that people are most productive in jobs that match their style and earn less when they have to shift to other jobs. An oversupply of one attribute relative to the other reduces wages for people who are better with the attribute in greater supply. We present evidence that youth sociability affects job assignment in adulthood. The returns to interpersonal interactions are consistent with the assignment model.
We are grateful to David Autor, Francine Blau, Nicole Fortin, Daniel Hamermesh, Masanori Hashimoto, James Heckman, Tom Kniesner, Hajime Miyazaki, Joan Muysken, Derek Neal, Robert Roe and Bas Straathof for helpful comments and discussions. Participants at the EALE, the IZA/SOLE Meeting, Maastricht University, and the NBER Summer Institute are gratefully acknowledged for their comments. We wish to thank ESRC SKOPE and Francis Green for making available the BSS data. We would like to thank Alexandra Spitz-Oener for help with the German data. Ter Weel acknowledges financial support from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), and Weinberg acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation. Part of this work was done while Borghans and Ter Weel were visiting the Department of Economics at Ohio State University and while Weinberg was visiting MERIT and ROA at Maastricht University. We are grateful for their hospitality and support. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Lex Borghans & Bas ter Weel & Bruce A. Weinberg, 2008. "Interpersonal Styles and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4). citation courtesy of