Matthew Bidwell

Matthew Bidwell
  • Associate Professor of Management

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    2020 SH-DH
    3620 Locust Walk
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: careers, contingent work, firm boundaries, human resource management, knowledge workers

Links: CV

Overview

Matthew Bidwell’s research examines new patterns in work and employment, focusing in particular the causes and effects of more short-term, market oriented employment relationships. He has conducted detailed research on the contracting workforce in information technology, publishing papers on how those contractors are used within firms, on the effects of their relationships with staffing firms, and on who goes into contracting. A second focus of his research explores how workers build careers across organizations, working in different kinds of workplaces at different points in their careers. Current projects explore how organizations balance internal promotions with external hiring, and why worker mobility has increased in recent years.

Matthew holds a Ph.D. from the MIT Sloan School, an S.M. in Political Science from MIT, and an M.Chem from Oxford. He is currently a Sloan Industry Studies Fellow. He serves on the editorial boards of Academy of Management Review and Organization Science

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Research

  • Matthew Bidwell and Ethan Mollick (2015), Shifts and Ladders: Comparing the Role of Internal and External Mobility in Executive Careers, Organiztion Science, 26 (6), pp. 1629-1645.

    Abstract: Workers can build their careers either by moving into a different job within their current organization or else by moving into a new job within a different organization. We use matching perspectives on job mobility to develop predictions about the different roles that those internal and external moves will play within their careers. We propose that internal and external mobility are associated with very different rewards: upwards progression into a job with greater responsibilities is much more likely to happen through internal mobility, but external moves will nonetheless offer similar increases in pay, as employers seek to attract external hires. We also examine how these predictions change when moves take workers across job functions as well as when external mobility happens involuntarily. Analyses of data on the careers on MBA alumni are used to support these arguments. Despite growing interest in boundaryless careers, our findings indicate that internal and external mobility play very different roles in executives’ careers, with upwards mobility still happening overwhelmingly within organizations.

  • Matthew Bidwell, Shinjae Won, Roxana Barbulescu, Ethan Mollick (2015), I Used to Work at Goldman Sachs! Status, Careers, and Competitive Advantage, Strategic Management Journal, 36 (8), pp. 1164-1173.

  • Matthew Bidwell and JR Keller (2014), Within or without? How firms combine internal and external labor markets to fill jobs, Academy of Management Journal.

    Abstract: We examine which jobs are more likely to be filled by internal mobility (specifically, promotions and lateral transfers) versus hiring. Building off the assumptions of transaction cost accounts of employment, we develop new theory that focuses on the interaction between the problems of evaluating and integrating external hires on the one hand and the incentive costs of failing to promote eligible workers on the other. These arguments lead us to predict how three specific characteristics of jobs - demands for firm-specific skills, performance variability, and supply of internal candidates - affect how those jobs are staffed. Using seven years of personnel data spanning all jobs from the US offices of a large investment bank, we find that jobs with higher performance variability and a larger grade ratio of junior to senior workers are more likely to be filled by internal mobility. We also find evidence that the effects of performance variability are contingent on the grade ratio, only affecting staffing decisions when the firm does not face strong pressures to promote junior workers in order to maintain incentives. Contrary to expectations, we find no effect for firm-specific skills.

  • Matthew Bidwell (2012), What Happened to Long Term Employment? The Role Of Worker Power and Environmental Turbulence in Explaining Declines in Worker Tenure, Organization Science, (forthcoming).

    Abstract: Recent declines in the average length of time that US workers spend with a given employer represent an important change in the nature of the employment relationship, yet one whose causes are poorly understood.  I explore those causes using Current Population Survey data on the tenure of men aged 30-65. I argue that long term employment relationships primarily occur when workers pressure employers to close off employment from market competition, reducing the attractiveness of external mobility relative to internal opportunities, and increasing employment security. I then explore how two changes in organizations’ environments might have affected workers’ ability to secure such closed employment relationships: a decline in union strength, and increased turbulence from changes in technology and globalization. My results support the argument that declines in tenure reflect the reduced power of workers to secure closed employment relationships. Recent declines in tenure have been concentrated in large organizations, and much of those declines are explained by controlling for the changing levels of industry unionization. I find little evidence that foreign competition or technological change affected mobility. The results are robust to measures of changing industry growth rates and within-industry reorganization. Supplementary analyses suggest that layoffs are associated with different industry pressures than tenure, and that voluntary mobility may have played an important role in declines in tenure.

  • Matthew Bidwell (2012), Politics and Firm Boundaries: How Organizational Structure, Group Interests and Resources Affect Outsourcing, Organization Science, (forthcoming).

    Abstract: How does managers’ pursuit of their own intra-organizational interests affect decisions about what work to outsource and how to contract with vendors? I study this question using a qualitative study of outsourcing in the IT department of a large financial services firm. Traditional transaction-cost-based theories argue that decisions about which transactions to outsource should reflect the characteristics of those transactions, yet I find only a weak link between transaction characteristics and outsourcing decisions. Qualitative evidence suggests that managers’ pursuit of their own intra-organizational interests helps to explain why outsourcing decisions were often divorced from transaction characteristics. I found that the consequences of outsourcing projects were consistent with the assumptions of transaction cost and capabilities based theories: managers had less authority over outsourced projects than internal, those projects were subject to weaker administrative controls, and outsourced vendors provided different capabilities than internal suppliers. However, the way that those consequences were evaluated often reflected managers’ own interests rather than those of the organization. I highlight three aspects of organizational structure that affected how managers evaluated outsourcing: the nature of differentiated goals and responsibilities, the administrative controls that managers faced, and the pressures caused by interdependent workflows within the organization. I also show how the distribution of authority and other resources shaped which projects were outsourced. The analysis highlights the value of understanding make or buy decisions as an endogenous consequence of the structure in which those decisions take place, rather than as isolated decisions that are maximized regardless of their context.

  • Matthew Bidwell (2012), Do Women Choose Different Jobs From Men? Mechanisms of Application Segregation in the Market for Managerial Workers, Organization Science, (forthcoming).

    Abstract: This paper examines differences in the jobs that men and women apply to, in order to better understand gender segregation in managerial jobs. We develop and test an integrative theory of why women might apply to different jobs than men. We note that constraints based on gender role socialization may affect three determinants of job applications: how individuals evaluate the rewards provided by different jobs; whether they identify with those jobs; and whether they believe that their applications will be successful. We then develop hypotheses about the role of each of these decision factors in mediating gender differences in job applications. We test these hypotheses using the first direct comparison of how similarly qualified men and women apply to jobs, based on data on the job searches of MBA students. Our findings indicate that women are less likely than men to apply to finance and consulting jobs, and more likely to apply to general management positions. These differences are partly explained by women’s preference for jobs with better anticipated work-life balance, their lower identification with stereotypically masculine jobs, and their lower expectations of job offer success in such stereotypically masculine jobs. We find no evidence that women are less likely to receive job offers in any of the fields studied. These results point to some of the ways in which gender differences can become entrenched through the long-term expectations and assumptions that job candidates carry with them into the application process.

  • Matthew Bidwell (2012), Book Review of “Freelancing Expertise: Contract Professionals in the New Economy, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 6(1): 181-182.

    Abstract: Individuals often enter similar jobs via two different routes: internal mobility and external hiring. I examine how the differences between these routes affect subsequent outcomes in those jobs. Drawing on theories of specific skills and incomplete information, I propose that external hires will initially perform worse than workers entering the job from inside the firm and have higher exit rates, yet they will be paid more and have stronger observable indicators of ability as measured by experience and education. I use the same theories to argue that the exact nature of internal mobility (promotions, lateral transfers, or combined promotions and transfers) will also affect workers’ outcomes. Analyses of personnel data from the U.S. investment banking arm of a financial services company from 2003 to 2009 confirm strong effects on pay, performance and mobility of how workers enter jobs. I find that workers promoted into jobs have significantly better performance than workers hired into similar jobs for the first two years, and lower rates of voluntary and involuntary exit. Nonetheless, the external hires are initially paid around 18 per cent more than the promoted workers and have higher levels of experience and education. The hires are also promoted faster. I further find that workers who are promoted and transferred at the same time have worse performance than other internal movers.

  • Matthew Bidwell (2011), Paying More to Get Less: Specific Skills, Matching, and the Effects of External Hiring versus Internal Promotion, Administrative Science Quarterly.

    Abstract: Individuals often enter similar jobs via two different routes: internal mobility and external hiring. I examine how the differences between these routes affect subsequent outcomes in those jobs. Drawing on theories of specific skills and incomplete information, I propose that external hires will initially perform worse than workers entering the job from inside the firm and have higher exit rates, yet they will be paid more and have stronger observable indicators of ability as measured by experience and education. I use the same theories to argue that the exact nature of internal mobility (promotions, lateral transfers, or combined promotions and transfers) will also affect workers’ outcomes. Analyses of personnel data from the U.S. investment banking arm of a financial services company from 2003 to 2009 confirm strong effects on pay, performance and mobility of how workers enter jobs. I find that workers promoted into jobs have significantly better performance than workers hired into similar jobs for the first two years, and lower rates of voluntary and involuntary exit. Nonetheless, the external hires are initially paid around 18 per cent more than the promoted workers and have higher levels of experience and education. The hires are also promoted faster. I further find that workers who are promoted and transferred at the same time have worse performance than other internal movers.

  • Matthew Bidwell (2011), Book Review of “Chasing Stars”, Perspectives on Work, 15(1): 60-61.

  • Matthew Bidwell (2010), Problems Deciding: How the Structure of Make-or-Buy Decision Leads to Transaction Misalignment, Organization Science, 21(2) 362-379.

    Abstract: This paper explores how the structure of decision making affects the way that firms manage their boundaries. Achieving transaction alignment requires firms to balance multiple goals. Drawing on the behavioral theory of the firm, I note that firms often assign different goals to different organizational units. As a consequence, simple problems about whether to make or buy can be affected by multiple decisions taken by multiple, locally rational units. I use a case study of the management of IT consultants in a financial services firm to explore how make-or-buy decisions are made. I find that senior managers at the firm focused on cost and organizational flexibility, whereas frontline managers concentrated on exploiting workers’ existing knowledge. The narrow focus of these two groups interacted with the complex demands of transaction alignment to create three problems: separation of related decisions about internal capacity and project staffing, incomplete information when deciding on organizational capacity, and incentive misalignment in staffing consultants. These problems led the firm to become dependent on its consultants. I build on the case study to develop theoretical propositions about the characteristics of decisions and organizational structure that are most likely to lead boundary decisions to deviate from existing predictions.

Teaching

Past Courses

  • MGMT242 - CORP. GOVERNANCE EXEC

    This course examines the relationships between corporate managers,the boards ofdirectors charged with overseeing them, and investors. We'll review the responsibilities of the board, including financial statement approval, CEO performance assessment, executive compensation, and succession planning. While boards are legally bound to represent the interests of equity investors, in the course of carrying out this role they are often called on to respond to the needs of numerous other stakeholders, including customers, employees, government and society at large. With global brands at risk and mistakes instantly transmitted via Internet and social media, the reputational stakes are very high. The course is a combination of lecture, guest lecture, discussion, case analysis, and in-class research workshops. We will review some of the theory underlying modern governance practice, drawing from theories and evidence provided by research across diverse fields, including finance, sociology, and organization and management theory. We'll study specific situations where boards and management teams faced governance challenges, and assess the strategies used to deal withem. Finally, we'll examine the ways in which governance arrangements and external stakeholder involvement in governance affects corporate social behavior and global citizenship.

  • MGMT611 - MANAGING EST ENTERPRISE

    The management of large, established enterprises creates a range of multi-facet challenges for the general manager. A general manager needs to understand the internal workings of a firm, how to assess and create a strategy, and how to take into account increasing, globalization. While these issues are distinct, they are very much intertwined. As a result, this course will provide you with an integrated view of these challenges and show you that effective of an established enterprise requires a combination of insights drawn from economics, sociology, psychology and political economy.

  • MGMT625 - CORP. GOVERNANCE EXEC

    This course examines the relationships between corporate managers, the boards of directors charged with overseeing them, and investors. We'll review the responsibilities of the board, including financial statement approval, CEO performance assessment, executive compensation, and succession planning. While boards are legally bound to represent the interests of equity investors, in the course of carrying out this role they are often called on to respond to the needs of numerous other stakeholders, including customers, employees, government and society at large. With global brands at risk and mistakes instantly transmitted via Internet and social media, the reputational stakes are very high. The course is a combination of lecture, guest lecture, discussion, case analysis and in-class research workshops. We will review some of the theory underlying modern governance practice, drawing from theories and evidence provided by research across diverse fields, including finance, sociology, and organization and management theory. We'll study specific situations where boards and management teams faced governance challenges, and assess the strategies used to deal with them. Finally, we'll examine the ways in which governance arrangements and external stakeholder involvement in governance affects corporate social behaviorand global citizenship.

  • MGMT794 - UNDERSTANDING CAREERS

    This course examines the structure of executive careers in order to help understand how those careers can be managed most effectively. By drawing on extensive economic, sociological and psychological research on careers, we will examine such questions as when executives should move on to the next job or evenchange fields altogether, and what are effective means of finding jobs, achieving promotions, managing networks, and achieving work-life balance. The first few sessions of the course explore the basic building blocks of the career, outlining our knowledge on the different orientations that individuals take to their careers, how approaches to the career change as people get older, and how different kinds of job moves within and across firms advance careers. The second part of the course explores in more detail the social resources that affect careers, notably social networks and relationships with mentors. The third section of the course then examines a number of the most important and difficult issues affecting modern careers, including making successful transitions, the effects of gender on careers, work life balance, and international careers. Format: The course is structured around a combination of academic research, cases, guest speakers, and examples and exercises. A project encourages the students to compare their own plans for their careers with the careers that have been experienced by older executives.

  • MGMT970 - APP METHODS MGMT RES

    Students taking the course will be introduced to the seminal readings on a given method, have a hands-on discussion regarding their application often using a paper and dataset of the faculty member leading the discussion. The goal of the course is to make participants more informed users and reviewers of a wide variety of methodological approaches to Management research including Ordinary Least Squares, Discrete Choice, Count Models, Panel Data, Dealing with Endogeneity, Survival/failure/event history and event studies, experiments, factor analysis and structural equation modeling, hierarchical linear modeling, networks, comparative qualitative methods, coding of non-quantitative data, unstructured text and big data simulations.

Awards and Honors

  • Outstanding Reviewer Award, Academy of Management Review, 2009
  • Outstanding Reviewer Award (given to top 5% of division conference reviewers), Business Policy and Strategy division of the Academy of Management, 2009
  • Outstanding Reviewer Award (given to top 5% of division conference reviewers), Business Policy and Strategy division of the Academy of Management, 2006
  • Recipient, Wilson Fellowship, 2000-2002
  • Kennedy Scholar, 1996-1997

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Can Baby Boomers Succeed in a Millennial World?

Baby boomers, after spending years as the most coveted generation in the workplace, often now feel as if they’re getting pushed aside and out.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2018/04/17
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Awards and Honors

Outstanding Reviewer Award, Academy of Management Review 2009
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