Constrain the Constraints: The Macro Gains from Restricting Non-Compete Contracts [paper]
This paper assesses the aggregate effect of non-competition employment contracts, agreements that exclude employees from joining competing firms for a duration of time, in the managerial labor market. These contracts encourage firm investment but restrict manager mobility. To explore this tradeoff, I develop a dynamic contracting model in which firms use non-competition to enforce buyout payment when their managers are poached, ultimately extracting rent from outside firms. Such rent extraction encourages initial employing firms to undertake more investment, as they partially capture the external payoff, but distorts manager allocation. I show that the privately-optimal contract over-extracts rent by setting an excessively long non-competition duration. Therefore, restrictions on non-competition can improve efficiency. To quantitatively evaluate the theory, I assemble a new dataset on non-competition contracts for executives in U.S. public firms. Using the contract data, I find that executives under non-competition are associated with a lower separation rate and higher firm investment. I also provide new empirical evidence consistent with non-competition reducing wage-backloading in the model. The calibrated model suggests that the optimal restriction on non-competition duration is close to banning non-competition.
Work in Progress
Repurchase Options in the Markets for Lemons, with Saki Bigio
Knowledge Creation and Diffusion with Limited Appropriation, with Hugo Hopenhayn