Hiring highly skilled immigrants has a “Ted Lasso” effect


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In the Apple TV + series Ted lasso, a British landlord brings an American immigrant to the UK to coach football in the hopes that he will sink the club in order to upset her ex-husband. However, new research shows that companies, including European football clubs, improve performance with immigrant employees. The broader implications of the research, economists say, are that businesses win by hiring immigrants, and governments should let them do so if they want businesses to be more successful.

“Our motivation in writing this article was to better understand how immigration policies affect the success of businesses,” said Britta Glennon, assistant professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, in an interview. “The cost and effort required to employ skilled immigrants continues to rise, and managers, now more than ever, need to understand the competitive advantages of these costs and whether hiring skilled immigrants actually improves the performance of their workers. organizations. ”

The National Bureau of Economic Research recently published the paper “Does Employing Skilled Immigrants Improve Competitive Performance? Evidence From European Football Clubs ”by Glennon, Francisco Morales (Universidad Diego Portales Santiago, Chile), Seth Carnahan (Washington University in St. Louis) and Exequiel Hernandez (Wharton School).

“We find strong, positive evidence to support it,” said Glennon. “When organizations (in our context, European football clubs) have more flexibility to hire skilled immigrants, their performance improves and these immigrants give them a competitive advantage over organizations that are more constrained. This is the most important finding of the research: organizations benefit from the opportunity to hire more skilled immigrants. “

“It’s an interesting analogy to the many other workplaces that involve teams,” said Mark Regets, labor economist and senior researcher at the National Foundation for American Policy. “A lot of product development is teamwork. In the case of football, they have measures of individual and team productivity which in other contexts would be more difficult to measure or contain private information. “

Economists note that government policies have made it more difficult to hire foreign nationals. The Trump administration has dramatically increased the cost and rejection rates of H-1B petitions, used by foreign-born scientists and engineers (and others). The judges ruled that most policies were illegal and rejection rates returned to previous levels after the policies ended. Previously researchGlennon found that government restrictions on H-1B petitions encouraged companies to send more jobs and research and development to other countries, such as Canada, India and China.

European football is a good subject to study immigration because of “its global and human capital intensive nature”, and “the governing bodies (i.e. football associations) of each of the five leagues have made significant and different changes over time to the rules regarding (1) how many foreign player clubs can sign and field, and (2) which nationalities are considered “foreign”.

Some of the main research findings from Glennon, Morales, Carnahan and Hernandez:

· “Using an instrumental variables approach rooted in the international trade literature (Feyrer 2019), we find a positive relationship between the number of immigrant employees and organizational performance.

· “The results suggest that each additional immigrant player improves a club’s margin of victory (ie goal difference) by around 0.12.

· “We find that immigrant players, compared to domestic players, are 1.2% more likely to be named in the starting lineup, score 0.007 more goals, have a 0.6 higher pass success rate % and a 1.8% higher dribbling success rate. . . . Notably, immigrant players do not differ from national players in the number of times they have the ball during matches. Immigrant players are therefore more effective when they have possession, not because they have the ball more often. We also find that the market value of immigrant players is higher than that of domestic players. “

What do researchers conclude about immigrant managers like Ted Lasso? “We find that the number of immigrant players has a stronger positive relationship with club performance when the club has an immigrant manager,” according to the study. “It is interesting that this result does not appear to be due to the fact that immigrant managers are better, on average, than native managers – immigrant managers are only associated with better competitive performance when the club has a high number. immigrant players.

“Also, we don’t find much evidence that immigrant managers attract more talented immigrant players. But we find that the national diversity created by immigrant players from different countries is associated with better club performance when the club has an immigrant manager. Since clubs without immigrant executives experience a negative association between diversity and performance, we assume that immigrant managers are essential to activate the potential benefits of national diversity.

The latest research shows that preventing companies from hiring immigrants hurts American businesses and the American economy. The results support the view that immigrants are valuable contributors to a firm’s competitiveness.

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