A Look into Corporate Innovation from Human Capital Demand

Project: Research

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Innovation is key to our economy. However, researchers have relatively limited information to understand firms’ R&D activities. In our proposed study, we plan to explore a recently available new information source to study firms’ R&D activities – firms’ online job postings. Firms’ online job postings contain timely and rich information about firms’ human capital demand. Our study will focus on firms’ R&D job postings. The textual information of job postings allows us to measure both the quantitative and the qualitative side of firms’ demand for R&D human capital. Using online job postings data to study firms’ R&D activities has two main advantages. First, the detailed textual information contained in job postings, including job titles, occupations, education and experience requirements, and skill requirement, provide researchers rich information to investigate firms’ R&D activities from the human capital perspectives. Human capital is arguably the most crucial input in firms’ innovation process. The skills of the R&D personnel are direct indicators of whether and what new technologies a firm is developing. When Apple posted job postings that required skills and knowledge in the automotive driving system, the market immediately started to speculate that Apple was putting effort to design its “I-Car.” Second, firms’ job postings information is more timely and frequently disclosed. Job posting information is available as soon as firms post their job ads. In contrast, firms’ R&D expense is an ex-post measure of firms’ R&D activities and is only reported quarterly, and patent information is an even more delayed information signal. Thus, we believe firms’ job postings are a rich information source to investigate firms’ R&D activities. Using nearly universal job posting data from 2010 to 2020, our research focuses on achieving four main objectives: 1) explore and design an accurate method to identify R&D-related job postings; 2)conduct a systematic descriptive analysis on firms’ R&D-related job postings; 3) investigate the determinants of firms’ R&D-related job postings; 4) study the economic implications of the information from firms’ R&D-related job postings.


Project number9043438
Grant typeGRF
StatusNot started
Effective start/end date1/01/23 → …