Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD)

Degree Level





John Delery

Committee Member

Alan Ellstrand

Second Committee Member

Jason Ridge


Demand and Supply Mobility Constraints, Human Capital, Resource Based View, Strategic Human Resource Management


According to the Resource Based View, human capital resources are the key for sustainable competitive advantage. Human capital, however, is not an organizational possession and the voluntary turnover of valued human capital can erode an organization’s competitive advantage. In particular, subsequent losses in productivity and enabling rival firms to gain competitive advantage are only a few of the consequences of voluntary turnover.

The question of how organizations can influence turnover has triggered numerous conceptual and empirical papers. The majority of such endeavors focus on supply-side mobility constraints, exploring what organizations can do in order to minimize turnover intentions. On the supply-side, employers can utilize a range of human resource management (HRM) practices that either reduce employees’ willingness to appropriately evaluate their market value or increase their perceived mobility costs.

The demand-side of the labor market has received less attention. The underlying assumption for demand-side mobility barriers is that isolating mechanism exist, namely firm-specificity, social complexity, and resource complementarities. On this basis it has been argued that demand-side mobility constraints can be strengthened by emphasizing the firm-specificity of high performers’ knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) and by signaling to the external market that the organization’s competitive advantage is attributed to the complementarities between the human capital and other firm-specific resources. The effectiveness of these demand-side isolating mechanisms, however, is questionable

Taking into consideration that even organizations arguably doing “a good job” in keeping their employees satisfied become targets of successful poaching, the aim of this paper is to develop a framework of HR practices that can generate legal demand-side mobility constraints without lowering the supply-side mobility constraints. To gain insights regarding demand-side mobility constraints, a grounded theory approach is employed. Thirty-nine executive search consultants were interviewed and the analysis of the qualitative results indicates that demand-side mobility constraints were associated with two sets of organizational deployments: reactive, namely noncompetes, compensation, work-family/life-related practices, overtitling and creative titling, organizational culture (“positive” and “brainwashing”), developmental opportunities, and “gatekeepers” (monitoring of phone calls, emails, and the use of LinkedIn), and reactive, namely counteroffers.

Available for download on Friday, June 26, 2020