The employment of PhDs in firms: trajectories, mobility and innovation

June 2005
Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos (IPP) CSIC, Working Paper 2005-07

Laura Cruz-Castro & Luis Sanz-Menéndez

Labour markets for research are changing and the traditional segmentation model of the research labour market where the doctorate was mainly valuable in the academic sector is loosing ground. The paper studies a sample of PhDs and their corresponding employing firms to analyse patterns of mobility, economic returns, and innovation outputs. Qualitative and quantitative indicators are combined to tackle two sets of general questions: The first relates to the incentives for doctorate holders to pursue a company career versus an academic career. The second concerns the flexibility and/or reversibility of career options for young PhDs and the relative value of a doctorate outside academia. The results question the idea that the labour market for PhDs is tightly segmented and highlights the complementarity of PhDs’ individual competencies and collective capabilities in the assessment of innovation outputs. They also demonstrate that economic returns are significantly different by gender.