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Leaving the MNE

The aim of this project is to analyse and empirically assess the influence that mobility of skilled employees from large and knowledge-intensive multinational firms (MNFs) has on the growth and development of new businesses and small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) in Sweden.

The main idea is that large and knowledge-intensive MNFs function as “incubators”, where workers develop advanced knowledge, experiences and skills associated with large-scale modern knowledge-intensive businesses. Our key hypothesis is that mobility of skilled and experienced employees from MNFs to startups and established SMEs implies transfers of human capital that help these companies to upgrade their capabilities and develop their businesses. That is, the presence of MNFs in a local economy builds up a local pool of workers with relevant skills: human capital mobility is a means by which these can benefit SMEs and newly founded ventures. We will test this hypothesis using detailed longitudinal Swedish micro-level data spanning over two decades. These data allow us to identify employees that leave MNFs to start working in already established SMEs as well as employees that leave MNFs to join (or found) a new firm. The project will develop new empirical analyses of (i) the drivers of mobility of employees from MNFs to SMEs and startups, and of (ii) the influence that the presence of employees with MNF experience in established SMEs and startups has on their development and growth.