Discussion paper

DP18863 Knowledge workers and firm capabilities

Specialized knowledge-generating jobs comprise close to one fifth of employment and one fourth of the wage bill in French manufacturing firms. They are positioned high in the firm hierarchy, horizontally aside upper-tier managers but are not managerial in nature. This escapes the patterns implied by the hierarchy view of the firm. Conditioning on firm size and shares of management workers, their higher shares in employment at the firm level are correlated with more innovation and intangible capital, greater product complexity, higher revenue and quantity total factor productivity and profitability. This suggests that firms use specialized knowledge workers to generate within-firm knowledge and create firm capabilities. Consistently, we model firms as organizations where efficient production of higher-value added, complex goods requires information acquisition by within-firm knowledge workers to develop capabilities beyond those created by management and hierarchies.


Mengus, E and T Michalski (2024), ‘DP18863 Knowledge workers and firm capabilities‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 18863. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp18863