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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Fuller

The Demand for Executive Skills [NBER]

Executives in meeting

Researchers find increasing relevance of social skills in top managerial occupations and a greater emphasis on social skills in larger and more information-intensive organizations

In a recent working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Joseph Fuller, faculty lead at the Project on Workforce, and co-authors Stephen Hansen, Tejas Ramdas, and Raffaella Sadun, find that social skills for executives- e.g. being able to understand and emphasize, persuade others-- are becoming more important over time, in line with broader trends in the labor market.

The results suggest the need for training, search and governance mechanisms able to facilitate the match between firms and top executives along multiple and imperfectly observable skills.

The authors draw on a previously unexplored dataset of job descriptions for executive searches for C-suite positions across thousands of firms over 17 years. They use methods from machine learning to document substantial variation in language and demand for skills in top managerial positions. This provides the first measurement of demand for executive skills in the literature.


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