Skill-biased acquisitions? Human capital and employee mobility in small technology firms

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between acquisitions and mobility of knowledge workers and managers in small technology companies and how individual skills and capabilities moderate this relationship. Relying on the matched employer–employee data of the Swedish high-tech sectors from 2007 to 2015, we find that acquisitions increase the likelihood of employee departures, mainly in the form of switching to another employer, but that these acquisition effects are weaker for employees with technological competences. By contrast, the acquisition effects are found to be weaker for employees with managerial competences only when acquirers have a strong employee retention motive. When acquirers do not have a strong retention motive, managers, compared to other employees, are more likely to exit the (national) labor market after acquisitions. Our results suggest that the retention motive is a critical condition to explain post-acquisition employee turnover. Both technological and managerial competences are the types of human capital valued by acquirers when they have a strong retention motive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1219-1247
JournalSmall Business Economics
Issue number3
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Business Administration
  • Work Sciences

Free keywords

  • Acquisitions
  • Employee mobility
  • Knowledge workers
  • Managerial capabilities
  • Small technology firms
  • Technological capabilities


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