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

  • Minseo Baek, Matthew Bidwell, JR Keller (2021), My Manager Moved! The Effects of Supervisor Mobility on Subordinate Career Outcomes, Organization Science, forthcoming.

    Abstract: How do managers’ moves across jobs affect the subordinates they leave behind? Manager mobility disrupts established manager-subordinate relationships, as subordinates must now learn to work with a replacement. We explore how this relational disruption affects subordinates’ objective career success – specifically their financial rewards and subsequent promotion chances. We argue that manager mobility may have both positive and negative implications for subordinate outcomes. The loss of an established relationship may reduce subordinates’ performance and managers’ propensity to reward them; on the other hand, relational disruption may make subordinates more willing and able to seek out valuable opportunities elsewhere in the organization. We also argue that these effects are likely to be greatest for those subordinates who had worked with the previous manager for longer. Using eight years of personnel data from the US offices of a Fortune 500 healthcare company, we show how managers’ mobility is associated with a decrease in subordinates’ financial rewards, but an increase in their promotion prospects.

  • Virginia Doellgast, Matthew Bidwell, Alexander Colvin (2020), New Directions in Employment Relations Theory: Understanding Fragmentation, Identity and Legitimacy, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, forthcoming.

    Abstract: This article introduces the special issue “Toward new theories in employment relations.” The authors summarize the history of employment relations theory and reflect on the implications for new theory development of recent disruptive changes in the economy and society. Three sets of changes are identified: the growing complexity of actors in the employment relationship, an increased emphasis on identity as a basis for organizing and extending labor protections, and the growing importance of norms and legitimacy as both a constraint on employer action and a mobilizing tool. The articles in this special issue advance new frameworks to analyze these changes and their implications for the future of employment relations.

  • Matthew Bidwell (2020), No Vacancies? Building Theory on How Organizations Move People Across Jobs, Advances in Strategic Management , 41, pp. 153-174.

    Abstract: Mobility processes, the routines that organizations use to move employees into and across jobs, are a critical determinant of the way that human capital is allocated within organizations and careers developed. Most existing work on these mobility processes has examined processes in which mobility is tightly coupled to the filling of vacancies. There is substantial evidence, though, that many organizations adopt very different processes for managing mobility. In this theory paper, I compare vacancy-based, “job-pull” systems with alternative, “person-push” systems in which mobility is keyed to employees’ attainment of performance and skill thresholds to explain how and why mobility processes vary. I identify two, inter-related dimensions along which mobility processes vary: whether their decisions processes emphasize the need to match employees to tasks versus providing predictable rewards; and whether the system of jobs that people move between prioritizes flexibility or control of agency costs. I use these dimensions to predict when organizations will adopt different mobility processes, and how those processes will affect employees’ mobility.

  • Tracy Anderson and Matthew Bidwell (2019), Outside insiders: understanding the role of contracting in the careers of managerial workers, Organization Science, (forthcoming).

    Abstract: We explore the role that contracting plays within the careers of managerial workers. Contracting distances workers from organizational coordination and politics, aspects of organizational life that are often central to the managerial role. Nonetheless, managerial workers make up a substantial proportion of the contracting workforce. Qualitative interviews with managerial contractors indicate that the tension between the natures of contracting and managerial work means that managerial contractors carry out substantially more bounded work than do regular employees, and that this boundedness can shape the role that contracting plays in their careers. Examining the employment histories of MBA alumni of a US business school, we show that workers with fewer subordinates and greater personal demands are more likely to enter contracting. We also find that contractors report stronger work-life balance, but receive lower pay both while contracting and in subsequent regular employment. While prior research has highlighted the financial benefits and temporal demands of contracting for highly skilled workers, our findings introduce important boundary conditions into our understanding of high-skill contracting: the nature of the occupation is critical.

  • 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! How Organizational Status Creates Rents in the Market for Human Capital, Strategic Management Journal, 36 (8), pp. 1164-1173.

    Abstract: How does employer status benefit firms in the market for general human capital? On the one hand, high status employers are better able to attract workers, who value the signal of ability that employment at those firms provides. On the other hand, that same signal can help workers bid up wages and capture the value of employers’ status. Exploring this tension, we argue that high status firms are able to hire higher ability workers than other firms, and do not need to pay them the full value of their ability early in the career, but must raise wages more rapidly than other firms as those workers accrue experience. We test our arguments using unique survey data on careers in investment banking.

  • Matthew Bidwell and JR Keller (2014), Within or without? How firms combine internal and external labor markets to fill jobs, Academy of Management Journal, 57.

    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.

Teaching

Past Courses

MGMT242 – 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 behavior and global citizenship.

MGMT611 – MANAGING EST ENTERPRISE

This course is about managing large enterprises that face the strategic challenge of being the incumbent in the market and the organizational challenge of needing to balance the forces of inertia and change. The firms of interest in this course tend to operate in a wide range of markets and segments, frequently on a global basis, and need to constantly deploy their resources to fend off challenges from new entrants and technologies that threaten their established positions. The class is organized around three distinct but related topics that managers of established firms must consider: strategy, human and social capital, and global strategy.

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 behavior and global citizenship.

MGMT793 – PEOPLE ANALYTICS

This course examines the use of data to improve how people are managed within organizations. Recent years have seen a growing movement to bring more science to how we manage people. In some cases, that means ensuring that whatever practices and approaches we adopt are backed up by solid evidence as to their effectiveness. Often, organizations will seek to go further, analyzing their own data to identify problems and learn what is working and what is not in their own context. This course applies the insights of the people analytics movement to help students become better managers and more critical analysts within their organizations. The course aims to develop students in three specific ways. First, it provides students with an up-to-the-minute grounding in current evidence about managing people, providing a knowledge base that can ensure that their future management is guided by best practices. Second, it develops the skills and understanding necessary to be thoughtful, critical consumers of evidence on people management, allowing them to make the most of the analysis available to them as they make people decisions. Third, it provides guidance and practice in conducting people analytics, preparing students to gather data of their own, and making them more skilled analysts. The course addresses these topics through a mixture of lecture, case discussion, and hands on exploration of a variety of data sets.

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 even change 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 – RESEARCH METHODS IN MGMT

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.

OIDD793 – PEOPLE ANALYTICS

This course examines the use of data to improve how people are managed within organizations. Recent years have seen a growing movement to bring more science to how we manage people. In some cases, that means ensuring that whatever practices and approaches we adopt are backed up by solid evidence as to their effectiveness. Often, organizations will seek to go further, analyzing their own data to identify problems and learn what is working and what is not in their own context. This course applies the insights of the people analytics movement to help students become better managers and more critical analysts within their organizations. The course aims to develop students in three specific ways. First, it provides students with an up-to-the-minute grounding in current evidence about managing people, providing a knowledge base that can ensure that their future management is guided by best practices. Second, it develops the skills and understanding necessary to be thoughtful, critical consumers of evidence on people management, allowing them to make the most of the analysis available to them as they make people decisions. Third, it provides guidance and practice in conducting people analytics, preparing students to gather data of their own, and making them more skilled analysts. The course addresses these topics through a mixture of lecture, case discussion, and hands on exploration of a variety of data sets.

Awards and Honors

  • Wharton Teaching Excellence Award, 2020
  • ASQ Scholarly Contribution Award, 2017
  • Best overall paper award, Careers Division, Academy of Management, 2014
  • Winner, John T. Dunlop Outstanding Scholar Award, Labor and Employment Relations Association (recognizing outstanding research by a recent entrant to the field), 2014
  • Finalist, Industry Studies Association-INFORMS Best Paper Award, 2013
  • Finalist, Best Paper Award, Strategic Management Society Conference, 2012
  • Scholarly Achievement Award for best published paper in HR for 2011, Academy of Management HR division, 2012
  • Sloan Foundation Industry Studies Fellowship, 2010-2012
  • 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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When Will the Jobs Return?

Industries such as leisure and hospitality might bounce back sooner than others, but lower demand suggests more layoffs could be on the way, say experts at Wharton.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 4/7/2020
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Prof. Bidwell teaching in front of a whiteboard covered in words and graphsWhat Prof. Matthew Bidwell’s Research Reveals about Career Mobility

Around the 1970s, the predominant mindset of those entering the workforce was finding a job at a large company and climbing the internal ladder. This mentality has changed dramatically since then, and Associate Professor of Management Matthew Bidwell has been examining these new employment trends in his research on job…

Wharton Stories - 03/05/2019
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