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Essays in development, gender and personnel economics

Delfino, Alexia (2019) Essays in development, gender and personnel economics. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The first two chapters of this thesis provide insights into the determinants of occupational gender segregation in both developed and developing countries. The third chapter of this thesis goes beyond gender to understand how different aspects of individual identity, namely values, affect selection and performance in the workplace. Across the developed world, traditionally female-dominated sectors are growing and traditionally male-dominated sectors are shrinking. And yet, sectorial male shares are not changing accordingly. Why don’t men enter female-dominated occupations? In the first chapter, I study men’s selection into social work, a fast-growing occupation where the share of men has historically been below 25 percent. I embed a field experiment in the UK-wide recruitment of social workers to analyse barriers to men’s entry and the nature of men’s sorting into this occupation. I modify the content of recruitment messages to potential applicants to exogenously vary two key drivers of selection: perceived gender shares and expectations of returns to ability. I find that perceived gender shares do not affect men’s application decisions, which suggests no role for gender identity or social stigma in their choices. Increasing expected returns to ability encourages men to apply, and improves the average quality of the applicants and performance on the job of the new hires, indicating that men are negatively sorted into social work. In turn, a higher (perceived) share of male workers improves the quality of female hires by discouraging the least talented women from applying. These findings suggest that breaking barriers to men’s entry in female-dominated occupations may help employers increase the diversity and overall quality of their workforce. The second chapter deals with gender segregation in the growing urban marketplaces of the developing world. Commerce between strangers requires trust, but trust is difficult when one group consistently fears expropriation by another. If men have a comparative advantage at violence and there is little rule-of-law, then unequal bargaining power can lead women to segregate into low-return industries and avoid entrepreneurship altogether. In this paper, we present a model of female entrepreneurship and rule of law that predicts that women will only start businesses when they have both formal legal protection and informal bargaining power. The model’s predictions are supported both in cross-national data and with a new census of Zambian manufacturers. In Zambia, female entrepreneurs collaborate less, learn less from fellow entrepreneurs, earn less and segregate into industries with more women, but gender differences are ameliorated when women have access to adjudicating institutions, like Market Chiefs and a Small Claims Court. We experimentally induce variation in local institutional quality in an adapted trust game, and find that this also reduces the gender gap in trust and economic activity. The third chapter of this thesis studies the primitives of corporate culture: employees’ values. It is well known that shared values can mitigate the adverse consequences of incomplete contracts and reduce coordination costs. Misalignment in values - either actual or perceived by the employees - could make such inefficiencies worse, reducing productivity and creating resistance to change. We provide evidence by means of a survey that measures the perceived and actual value misalignment between employees, their colleagues, and top management in a multinational bank. The data, which covers 30,000 employees across 55 countries, reveals that values dissonance is negatively correlated with individual and team level performance, as well as with self-reported trust in the bank’s executives and intent to stay. Within countries, we show how bankers’ values compare with the ones listed by World Value Survey respondents. Employees whose values are further from common citizens perform better, but this is mainly explained by their higher position on the career ladder. We conclude by showing how aggregate shocks to societal perceptions of banking, such as the 2008 financial crisis, might shape organizational culture.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2019 Alexia Delfino
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Economics
Supervisor: Bandiera, Oriana and Ashraf, Nava

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