(This is an extended revision of the CEPR DP http://plegros.net/tT2Um)
Abstract: An agent can perform a job in several ways, which we call tasks. Choosing agents’ tasks is the prerogative of management within ﬁrms, and of agents themselves if they are entrepreneurs. While agents’ comparative advantage at different tasks is unknown, it can be learned by observing their performance. However, tasks that generate more information could lead to lower short-term proﬁts. Hence, ﬁrms will allocate workers to more informative tasks only if agents cannot easily move to other ﬁrms. When, instead, workers can easily move to other ﬁrms, agents may prefer to become entrepreneurs and acquire task discretion, even if their short-term payoﬀ is lower than as employees. Our model generates novel predictions with respect to, for example, how the wage dynamics of agents who switch between entrepreneurship and employment are affected by labor and contracting frictions.
JEL classiﬁcation: D83, J24, J62, J63, L26, M13.
Keywords Task discretion, organizational choice, entrepreneurship, labor-market frictions, entrepreneurial failure, learning.