ESSAYS ON AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENT
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This dissertation comprises three essays on the intended and unintended consequences of achievement. The introductory essay discusses the growing literature on awards in organizational contexts. I summarize the theoretical and empirical work on awards and integrate across these literatures to identify unanswered questions. The next essay explores an unintended organizational consequence of patenting. Building on theories of appropriability and firm-specificity, prior studies support the notion that patents constrain inventors from leaving their employer. I argue, however, that by patenting an inventor's idea, firms unintentionally send signals about the employee inventor's quality to their labor-market competitors, thereby increasing the probability of inventor mobility and entrepreneurship. I match US patent data to linked employee-employer Census microdata at the individual level. This novel dataset allows me to observe the near-complete patent, wage, and employer history of most US inventors between 1995 and 2008. To causally identify the effect of patenting, I use the historical leniency of quasi-randomly assigned patent examiners to instrument for whether a patent is granted. I challenge prior work by finding support for the signaling, rather than constraining, effects of patents. To test whether signaling is the operant mechanism, I show that patenting also increases the inventor's wages and future productivity. My findings reveal an interesting paradox for innovative firms: by patenting an inventor's idea, firms send signals to their labor market competitors and dramatically increase the probability that the inventor will leave to join or start another firm. My final essay explores the effect of prestigious awards on artist's subsequent productivity and performance. There is a large body of literature that finds award-winners have higher status, greater access to resources, and enhanced self-confidence; all of which may lead to increased performance and productivity. However, in this essay, I argue that prestigious awards may decrease ex post productivity for three reasons: (1) winners may become complacent after winning a prestigious award, and (2) winners may be freed to explore alternative career paths, and (3) winners may be more selective in choosing new projects. I investigate these conjectures in the US film industry from 2002-2018. I use prediction market odds to estimate the probability of winning an Academy or Golden Globe Award. I then condition on the probability of winning an award using a propensity score design to estimate the causal effect winning an award on subsequent productivity and performance. My results suggest that winning does lead to a decrease in the actor's future productivity. Further analysis suggests that winning an award also leads the winner to explore other careers (e.g., actors become directors) and to take less important roles. Award winners subsequently join movies that receive higher artistic ratings, but less commercial success. I find no effect on the number of screens the movie is released on or the movie's budget size. The results suggest that the productivity-enhancing effects in the pre-award period may be reversed after an award is granted.