Does Employing Skilled Immigrants Enhance Competitive Performance? Evidence from European Football Clubs

About the Research

We investigate the effect of hiring skilled immigrant employees on the performance of organizations. This relationship has been difficult to establish in prior work due to theoretical ambiguity, limited data, and inherent endogeneity. We overcome these difficulties by studying European football (soccer) clubs during 1990-2020. Detailed microdata from this setting offers unusual transparency on the migration and hiring of talent and their contribution to collective performance. Further, the industry is characterized by country-level rule changes that govern the number of immigrant players clubs can hire. Using these rule changes as the basis for instrumental variables, we find a positive local average treatment effect of the number of immigrant players on the club’s in-game performance. To examine the theoretical mechanisms, we explore whether immigrants cause superior performance because they are more talented than natives or because they enhance the national diversity of their clubs. We find strong evidence for the talent mechanism. We find contingent evidence for the national diversity mechanism: national diversity has a positive relationship with club performance only when the club employs an immigrant manager (coach). The presence of an immigrant manager also strengthens the positive relationship between the number of immigrant players and club performance.

About Zeke Hernandez

Exequiel (Zeke) Hernandez is the Max and Bernice Garchik Family Presidential Associate Professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He studies how global networks created by human migration and corporate partnerships affect the internationalization, innovation, and performance of organizations. He publishes pioneering research in two broad areas. In the first, he links immigration to organizations by demonstrating that migration patterns affect the investment choices, organizational decisions, and performance of firms in foreign markets. In the second, he shows that the structure of interfirm networks profoundly affects the value firms can create from corporate transactions such as alliances, acquisitions, and divestitures. He has won three Emerging Scholar awards from the most prestigious academic associations in his field, plus several best paper prizes for his research. He has also been recognized with numerous teaching excellence awards, and was selected by Poets & Quants as one of the Best 40 Under 40 business professors in the world.

Date: 14 March 2022

Time: 12:00-1:30 pm CEST

Venue: Room A368, emlyon Écully Campus

Should you want to attend, please register at the link.