David Knoke, Song Yang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


Human capital theory hypothesizes that no firm rationally invests in general job skills training because its competitors might hire the trained employees away before the firm could recoup its costs through higher worker productivity. Drawing from four explanatory perspectives, we developed several research hypotheses about the organizational and environmental sources of variation in company-provided job skills training for core employees, which we tested with a national sample of U.S. work establishments. Contrary to human capital theory expectations, the large majority of employers with core training programs reported providing skills that were either "to a great deal" or "to some extent" useful to other employers. Our general skills training analysis supported only one hypothesis, suggesting the inadequacy of human capital theory for explaining company training investments. We found evidence that the substantive contents of company job skills training programs differentiated into technical skills and social skills dimensions. Multivariate equations supported several hypothesized effects of organizational and environmental factors on the social and technical skills contents of company core training investments. We conclude with a reassessment of the classic general-specific job skills hypothesis and speculate about future directions for job skills training theory and research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Sociology of Job Training
Number of pages28
StatePublished - 2003

Publication series

NameResearch in the Sociology of Work
ISSN (Print)0277-2833

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We appreciate the comments and suggestions of the reviewer and editor which improved our analyses. A grant from the National Science Foundation supported data collection for this project (co-principal investigators, Arne L. Kalleberg, David Knoke and Peter V. Marsden). Address all queries by e-mail to: Knoke@atlas.socsci.umn.edu


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