Academic Positions

  • 2013-Present: Assistant Professor
    Mary and Jim Lawrence Fellow
    University of Minnesota- Twin Cities

    Carlson School of Management

    Work & Organizations Group

    Graduate Faculty of the Department of Applied Economics and Minnesota Population Center (MPC)

Education

  • 2013: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management
    Ph.D., Management, Institute for Work & Employment Research
    Dissertation: “Sustained Rents and Imperfect Labor Markets: Essays on Recruitment, Training, Job Mobility, and Incentives”
    Chairs: David Autor (MIT Economics) and Paul Osterman (MIT Sloan)
  • 2007: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations
    B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations (Honors)
    Thesis Title: “A Game Theoretic Approach to Social Dialogue”
    Oxford University, Pembroke College
    Exchange student in Economics and Management, 2005-2006

Publications

Works in Progress

  • Benson, Alan, Simon Board, and Moritz Meyer-ter-vehn. "Discrimination in Hiring: Evidence from Retail Sales." Under revision at Review of Economic Studies.
  • Manchester, Colleen, Alan Benson, and J. Myles Shaver. "Dual careers and the willingness to consider employment in startup ventures." Under revision at Strategic Management Journal
  • Benson, Alan, and Louis-Pierre LePage. "The Emergence of Hiring Discrimination." Working paper.
  • Benson, Alan, Danielle Li, and Kelly Shue. "Potential and the Gender Promotion Gap." Working paper. 
  • Sajjadiani, Sima, John Kammeyer-Mueller, and Alan Benson. "Organizational Context, Staffing Events, and Work Outcomes: A Dynamic Analysis Approach." Working paper.

Fellowships and Honors

  • 2021 Mary and Jim Lawrence Fellowship
  • 2020 Carlson School of Management Teaching Award
  • 2020 Herbie Award for Excellence in Teaching (top instructor by vote from Master's students)
  • 2019, Upjohn Institute Early Career Research Award and grant
  • 2018, Best paper award at Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) workshop on Incentives, Management, and Organization (IMO) in Milan, for "Promotions and the Peter Principle."
  • 2018, John Dunlop Outstanding Young Scholar Award, from LERA
  • 2018, Giarrantini Rising Star Award, from Industry Studies Association
  • 2018, Herbie Award for Excellence in Teaching (top instructor by vote from Master's students)
  • 2017, Second prize, best research paper competition, from Wharton People Analytics Conference, for "Hemming and Hawing over Hawthorne” (retitled "A Numbers Game")
  • 2017, Best paper award, LERA/ ILR Review Best Paper Competition, for "Are Bonus Pools Driven by their Incentive Effects?"
  • 2017, Best paper award, Financial Institutions, Regulation, and Corporate Governance conference in Sydney, Australia, for “Promotions and the Peter Principle.”
  • 2016, Teaching Innovation Grant from Timothy J. Nantell Fund for Excellence in Teaching
  • 2014, Outstanding Research Award and Grant, from MPC
  • 2014, SOBACO Small Grant
  • 2013, LERA Best Dissertation Award (Kochan-Sleigh Award)
  • 2012, Russell Sage Co-PI, “Is College Still Worth It?”
  • 2012, 64th LERA Meetings of the ASSA, Winner of Best Doctoral Student Paper
  • 2008-2013, Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship
  • 2007-2008, MIT Presidential Graduate Fellowship
  • 2007, Best senior thesis (Joel Seidman Memorial Prize), for “A Game Theoretic Approach to Social Dialogue”
  • 2007, Service to ILR School award (Irving M. Ives Award)
  • 2007, Golden Key Outstanding Membership Award for Community Service
  • 2005-2007, Hunter R. Rawlings III Cornell Presidential Research Scholarship
  • 2004-2006, Undergraduate Academic Research Fellowship

Invited Talks

  • 2021: ASSA/LERA in Chicago, IL.
  • 2020: AEA annual meeting in San Diego, CA; LERA winter meeting in San Diego, CA. LERA annual meeting in Portland, OR; Industry Studies Association meeting in Boston, MA. Postponed due to Covid-19:  Queens University Smith School of Business, Organizational Economics workshop in Ontario, Canada. 
  • 2019: AEA annual meeting in Atlanta, GA (organizer, presenter); Wharton School of Business Management department seminar in Philadelphia, PA; UBC Sauder CIRA workshop in Vancouver, BC; Academy of Management Meetings in Boston, MA; Stanford Institute for Theoretical Economics (SITE) workshop "Micro and Macro of Labor Markets" in Palo Alto, CA
  • 2018: INFORMS Organization Science Winter Conference (OSWC) in Park City, UT; University of Toronto Center for Industrial Relations and Human Resources seminar; MIT Sloan School of Management Organizational Economics seminar, Cambridge, MA; Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, MA; Industry Studies Association (ISA) Meetings in Seattle, WA (Giarrantini Rising Star Award); Society of Institutional and Organizational Economics (SIOE) in Montreal, Quebec; Labor and Employment Relations (LERA) meetings in Baltimore, MD (Dunlop Young Scholar award); NBER Summer Institute, Personnel Economics section, in Cambridge, MA; Academy of Management meetings (AOM) panel "The Analytics of Careers" in Chicago, IL; Advances in Field Experiments (AFE) conference at Boston University
  • 2017: INFORMS Organization Science Winter Conference (OSWC) in Park City, UT; MIT Sloan School of Management Institute for Work and Employment Research seminar, Cambridge, MA; Utah Winter Business Economics Conference (WBEC) in Snowbird, UT; Strategy department seminar of the Olin School of Business at Washington University in St Louis, MO; Midwest Economics Association (MEA) Conference in Cincinnati, OH; Wharton People Analytics Conference (two papers presented as finalists in research paper competition) in Philadelphia, PA; Northwestern Law School Searle Center Conference on Internet Commerce and Innovation in Chicago, IL; Western Economics Association (WEA) meetings in San Diego, CA; Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA) meetings in Anaheim, CA (competitive papers presenter; PhD consortium panelist; Jr Faculty Consortium organizer); Academy of Management (AOM) Meetings (OMT/ OB/ HR/ CAR divisions) in Atlanta, GA; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, School of Labor and Employment Relations; HEC Montreal Department of Economics
  • 2016 Society of Labor Economists (SOLE) meetings in Seattle, WA; MIT Sloan School of Management Institute for Work and Employments Research seminar, Cambridge, MA; Industry Studies Association (ISA) meetings in Minneapolis, MN; Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA) meetings in Minneapolis, MN; Finance and Retail Analytics Conference hosted by Minneanalytics in Minneapolis, MN; People and Organizations conference at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA (plenary and roundtable); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Conference on Corporate Finance, Cambridge, MA; NBER Conference on Organizational Economics, Cambridge, MA
  • 2015 Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA) meetings in Boston, MA; Society of Labor Economists (SOLE) meeting in Minneapolis, MN; Midwest Economics Association Meetings in Minneapolis, MN; People Analytics Conference at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, PA (Third Prize in Research Paper Competition); joint meeting of Society of Labor Economists and European Association of Labour Economists (SOLE/EALE) in Montreal, Canada; National Bureau of Economics Research (NBER) Summer Institute personnel economics section in Cambridge, MA; Wharton School of Business Conference on People and Organizations (plenary and roundtable)
  • 2014 Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA) Meetings in Philadelphia, PA (three sessions: "Dissecting Job Search," "What Impact do Managers Really Have?" and "Employment Structure and Inequality"); MIT Organizational Economics Lunch in Boston, MA; MIT Conference on Digital Experimentation (CODE@MIT) in Boston, MA; Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) meetings in Segovia, Spain
  • 2013 65th LERA Meetings in St. Louis (Winner- Best Dissertation), Summer 2013; University of Chicago Booth School of Business Organizations and Markets Seminar; University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management; Case Western Reserve University, Department of Economics; Duke University, Fuqua School of Business; Johns Hopkins University, Carey Business School; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, School of Labor and Employment Relations; London Business School, Trans-Atlantic Doctoral Conference; Cornell University, Institute for Compensation Research
  • 2012 Wharton School of Business Conference on People and Organizations (Plenary); MIT Economics Applied Microeconomics Lunch; Rutgers University, School of Management and Labor Relations; University of Maryland, Smith School of Business; Best Student Paper Competition Finalist Talk (Winner) at the 64th LERA Meetings
  • 2011 Wharton School of Business Conference on People and Organizations (Plenary); Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations; MIT IWER Seminar; MIT Economics Labor Lunch; American Sociological Association Annual Meeting in Las Vegas; Academy of Management Annual Meeting in San Antonio; Mondragone-La Pietra-Moncalieri (MOOD) Doctoral Workshop in Economic Theory & Econometrics at the Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF) in Rome, Italy; IWAEE Conference in Catanzaro, Italy; London Business School Transatlantic Doctoral Conference; American Rights at Work (ARAW) Conference at Georgetown University, Washington D.C.
  • 2010 MIT Sloan Economic Sociology Working Group Seminar; MIT Sloan IWER Seminar; MIT Economics Labor Lunch
  • 2009 Wharton School of Business Conference on People and Organizations; MIT Economics Labor Lunch

Non-Academic Professional Presentations

  • On negotiations: "Preparing for Pay Negotiations" Workshop for Twin Cities Compensation Network; "Lean In" Workshop on Negotiations for Hennepin County (Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs); Negotiation workshop for EpiCH; University of Minnesota P&A Professional Development Workshop, “The Principles of Interest Based Bargaining” and "The Practice of Interest Based Bargaining;" Minnesota Business Partnership EA Conference, “Negotiations and Our Career;” Carlson MBA Women’s Initiative seminars on pay negotiations, 2015 and 2016
  • On people analytics in sales: Minneanalytics Finance and Retail Conference (FARCON) 2016; WorldatWork 2014 Spotlight on Sales presentation, “From Salesman to Sales Manager- Using Big Data to Debunk Common Sales Manager Myths and Improve Productivity;” WorldatWork 2013 Spotlight on Sales Compensation presentation, “Panning the Big Sales Data Goldmine;” Twin Cities Compensation Network presentation "Promotions and the Peter Principle"

Media

  • ABC Radio National (Australia) - Richard Aedy's "The Peter Principle is Real," 6/30/18
  • Baltimore Sun - Dan Rodrick's "Questioning wage law built on kindness of strangers: Wondering how we got a separate base for tipped workers," 4/18/14
  • BBC - David Robson's "The reasons why people become incompetent at work," 6/15/20
  • BBC Business Daily- Ed Butler's "Why are so many bosses incompetent?" 6/25/20
  • Bloomberg - "Good employee vs good boss," 02/20/18
  • Boca Raton Tribune - Rick Boxx's "Pitfalls of the Peter Principle," 12/3/18
  • Boston Herald - Jack Encarnaco's "Tuition spikes send higher education enrollment tumbling," 08/31/17
  • Business Insider - Ian Salisbury's "Economists have uncovered a counterintuitive truth about why so many bosses are terrible," 3/1/18
  • Business Radio (Wharton) - Interview with Prof. Peter Cappelli for radio show "In the Workplace," 6/7/18
  • BusinessWorld - Jemy Gatuda's "Why incompetents are elected or promoted," 1/24/19
  • BuzzFeed - Caroline O'Donovan's "American Labor Unions are Falling Down on Digital Workers," 7/24/15
  • CBS News Radio San Francisco - Interview with Chris Filippi, 11/30/14
  • CBS/ WCCO News - "Why has pay for U.S. workers stayed relatively flat?," 7/10/17
  • CBS/WCCO News - "Should you discuss salaries with co-workers?" 11/29/18
  • CBS/WCCO News - Paul and Jordana Show, "Why hasn't pay kept up with productivity?" 9/6/18
  • CFO - David McCann's "Be wary of of promoting top sales reps," 2/26/18
  • Chicago Booth Review - Alex Verkhivker's "The best salespeople don't make the best managers," 7/12/17
  • Chronicle of Higher Education - Scott Carlson's "Is college worth it? Two reports say yes (mostly)," 11/4/13
  • Continental Telegraph - Tim Worstall's "Not that we ever doubted it, but the Peter Principle is correct," 4/23/19
  • Cowboy State Daily - Ellen Fike's "Wyoming Ranks 47th in Employment Recovery: Unemployment Claims Up by 900% in One Year" 8/13/2020
  • Deseret News - Eric Schultz's "College is 'Worth It,' but Majors Matter," 3/4/15
  • Die Welt ("German: The World") - von Inga Michler's "Warum viele Firmen systematisch die Falschen befördern." ("Why many companies systematically promote the wrong people"), 3/28/18
  • Discovery News - Emily Sohn's "Is College 'Worth It'?" 10/16/15
  • The Economist - "The Promotion Curse," 6/16/19
  • Economisch Statistische Berichten (Netherlands) - "Reputatie als tegengas in de sjeeseconomie," 1/30/16
  • EU CEDEFOP (European Center for the Development of Vocational Training) - "New forms of work and shady employers: How reputation can discipline the gig economy”3/2/16
  • Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis - Doug Clement's "In the Gig Economy, Reputation Counts," 2/6/19
  • Foundation for Economic Education - Alex Tabarrok's "The Peter Principle Tested," 5/6/19
  • Financial Times - Tim Harford's "We should not let bad managers stick around," 7/19/18
  • Financial Times - Sir Cary Cooper's "Don't Let Ambition Cloud our Talent Judgment," 8/3/18
  • Forbes - Rodd Wagner's "New Evidence the Peter Principle is Real, and What to Do About It," 4/10/18
  • Forbes - Bill Conerly's "Promoting Wrong People Hurts Retention and Productivity," 6/19/18
  • Forbes - Kathy Caprino's "Six Behaviors that will Block Your Leadership Success," (Peter Principle link), 2/2/19
  • Forbes (Mexico) - Diego Vallarino's "El Principio de Peter: promover a los incapaces," 3/6/19
  • Fox9 News - "Target Expands Paid Family Leave, Backup Care Benefits for Store Workers," 6/10/19
  • Grand Forks Herald - Ethan Nelson's "In ND, New Overtime Rule Will Have Bigger Effect Than in Minnesota," 6/11/16
  • Granted - Adam Grant's "Wondering," 5/18
  • Harvard Business Review - Alan Benson, Kelly Shue, and Danielle Li's "Do people really get promoted to their level of incompetence?" 3/8/18
  • Harvard Business Review - Andris Zoltners, Probhakant Sinha, and Sally Lorimer's "Why New Sales Managers Need More Training," 3/14/19
  • Harvard Business Review - Josh Bersin and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic's "Hire Leaders for What They Can Do, Not What They Have Done," 8/28/19
  • Het Financieele Dagblad (Netherlands) - Jasper Lukkezen's "Zeemeeuwmanagement" 6/1/19
  • Here We Are - Podcast interview with Shane Moss, "Episode 180: Robots and Employment," 8/24/18
  • HR Executive - Mark McGraw's "Gender and the Global Mobility Gap," 4/20/15
  • HR Executive - Peter Cappelli's "Promoting the Wrong Talent," 6/11/18
  • HRzone - Jan Hill's "Why HR needs to stop promoting based on the Peter Principle," 12/17/18
  • Inside Sources - Michael Graham's "In Wake of 'Side Door' College Admissions Scandal, Americans Ask: Is College Worth It?" 3/14/19
  • IZA Newsroom - "New forms of work and shady employers: How reputation can discipline the gig economy," 2/18/16
  • KARE 11 News (NBC-affiliated TV station serving Twin Cities) - Kent Erdahl's "Retailers Announce trips, bonuses to find holiday workers," 10/8/18
  • KELO News Radio - "Minnesota Joins States Bolstering Wage Theft Enforcement," 12/24/19
  • Knowledge@Wharton - "Are Good Managers Born or Made?" 3/15/16
  • Knowledge@Wharton - "Holiday Hiring: Can Retailers Attract Talent in a Tight Labor Market?" 11/15/18
  • KNSI Radio - Jennifer Lewerenz's, "Minnesota's Wage Theft Law See's Challenges in Understanding," 2/2/20
  • LA Times - Op Ed, "How to manage the financial risks of investing in college," 12/25/13
  • Le Nouvele Economiste (France) - Tim Hartford's, "Principe de Peter : nous ne devrions pas laisser les mauvais managers s’éterniser dans leur poste," 10/8/18
  • Les Affaires (Quebec) - "Votre boss est un incompétent? Voici pourquoi!" 5/6/19
  • LinkedIn Pulse - Sue Barrett's "The alarming findings of the Peter Principle and Sales Managers," 5/28/18
  • Malcolm Gladwell's podcast Revisionist History - Interview with Malcolm Gladwell, "Hamlet was Wrong" 8/6/20
  • Marginal Revolution - Alex Tabarrok's "The Peter Principle Tested," 5/1/19
  • Minneapolis-St Paul Business Journal - Patrick Rehkamp's "Minneapolis Park Board's Ill-Timed Goodbye Gifts," 1/15/16
  • MIT Sloan Management Review - Marc Zao-Sanders's "The Downstream Damage of the Leadership Skill Gap," 8/28/19
  • Naked Capitalism - Yves Smith's "Promotions and the Peter Principle," 4/25/19
  • National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) - Jay Fitzgerald's "The Peter Principle Isn't Just Real, It's Costly," 5/18
  • NBC News - "College Costs Soar, but Can You Afford Not to Go?" 4/15/15
  • NPR Morning Edition/ The Hidden Brain - Shankur Vindantam's "Why Is Your Boss Bad At His Job? It May Be The Peter Principle At Work" 4/3/18
  • NY Times - Sendhil Mullainathan's "You've become rich. That doesn't mean you're great at everything." 10/26/18.
  • PBS Newshour - Article and TV mention, "6 Rules to Help You Make the Best College Decision", 1/14/15
  • Public News Service - "Minnesota Joins States Bolstering Wage-Theft Enforcement," 2/2/20
  • Quartz - Corinne Purtill's "Your hotshot coworker would be a terrible boss, and research proves it," 2/26/18
  • Quartz - Quartz Obsession "The Peter Principle," 3/2/18
  • Quotable (Salesforce.com article) - Kevin Micalizzi's "Why you might not want to promote your top sales rep," 8/14/18
  • Quotable (Salesforce.com podcast) - Kevin Micalizzi's "The best sellers do not make the best managers," 11/1/18
  • Smart Company - Sue Barrett's "The alarming findings of the Peter Principle and sales managers," 5/28/18
  • Sydney Morning Herald - Sendhil Mullainathan's "You've become rich. That doesn't mean you're great at everything." 11/1/18
  • Technology Policy Institute - "Research Roundup Strikes Back," 1/12/16
  • The Globe and Mail (Canada) - Harvey Schachter's "Why promotions go awry," 4/14/18
  • The Times (of London/ the Sunday Times) - Grainne Rothery's "Why top dogs might baulk at the lead," 3/11/18
  • Thrive Global (Arianna Huffington's media company) - Nora Battelle's "How to handle the stress of a bad boss," 10/17/18
  • Thrive Global - Mallory Straton's "5 ways to support a colleague through a health scare," 3/8/19
  • Thrive Global - Elizabeth Yuko's "5 things everyone should do in their 20s to get ahead in their career," 3/27/19
  • Thrive Global - Ian Burke's "How to overcome deadline dread," 4/17/19
  • Time - Ian Salisbury's "Why Bosses Are Bad, According to Management Experts," 2/22/18
  • Twin Cities Business Journal - Kate Lerette's, "Degree Inflation" 9/1/17
  • Twin Cities Business Journal - Amanda Ostuni's "Targeting Employee Benefits," 10/7/19
  • Twin Cities Business Magazine - Gene Rebeck's "The IT Workforce Quandry," 5/7/19
  • Wall Street Journal - David Wessel's "How college has become a risky investment," 1/28/15
  • Wall Street Journal - Lauren Weber's "Why it's so hard to fill sales jobs: 'Salesman' baggage means well-paying tech industry positions go begging," 2/3/15
  • Wall Street Journal - Sam Walker's "Why Superstars Make Lousy Bosses," 11/6/18
  • WalletHub - Adam McCann's "States Hit Most by Unemployment Insurance Claims," 6/4/20
  • Washington Post - Dina ElBoghdady's "Why couples move for a man's job, but not a woman's," 11/28/14
  • Washington Post - Danielle Paquette's "Why college isn't always worth it: A new study suggests the economic return on a college degree may be a lot more modest than you might think," 1/30/15
  • Yahoo!News - Greg McKenna's "This study shows why companies should not always promote high achievers into management roles" 10/10/19
  • Zenefits - Lynne Marioka's "What the ABC Test Means for the Gig Economy: An Interview with Alan Benson," 6/19/2018

Service

  • Associate editor: Management Science (2021)
  • Refereeing: 64 submissions from 2015-2020, including (econ) AER, QJE, ReStud, J of Labor Economics, Economic Inquiry, J of Economic Growth; (labor) ILR Review, IR; BJIR (management/ OT) Management Science, Org Science, AMJ, JEMS, MSOM, OBHDP, ASQ; (other) Demography, J of Marriage and the Family, NSF
  • PhD advising: Sima Sajjadiani, 2014-2018 (initial placement: Assistant Professor, Sauder School of Business at the Univ. of British Columbia); Dongil Jang, 2020-present
  • Dissertation committees: Sergio Salgado Ibanez, 2019 (chair, Economics PhD, initial placement: Assistant Professor, Wharton at UPenn); Arun Kandanchatha, 2017 (Economics PhD, initial placement PwC), Luiz Diez Catalan, 2018 (Economics PhD, initial placement: BBVA Research in Spain), Sinafikeh Gemessa, 2019 (Applied Economics PhD, initial placement: UN-IFAD postdoc), Marianna Urbina Ramirez, 2019 (Applied Economics PhD, initial placement: Demographer at UN)
  • Service teaching: Managing Employee Compensation on Coursera
  • Conferences: Organizer for 2016 and 2017 LERA Jr Faculty Consortiums, 2018 Mitsui Labor-Finance conference
  • Department and university service: PhD Program Committee 2013-2016, 2019-present; People Analytics Committee 2015-2016; Department of Work and Organizations Executive Committee 2017-2018; HRIR Master's program committee 2018-present; Applied Economics Graduate Faculty, 2013-present (e.g. writing annual qualifying exams, serving on commitees for oral exams, dissertation defenses, fellowship awards and nominations, etc); Applied Economics Graduate Committee labor field representative (2020-2021); advisor and awards committee for Carlson senior honors theses
  • Professional memberships/ sporadic service: AEA, ISA, LERA, AOM

Teaching

Instructor

  • 2014-current: Compensation and Benefits (Masters)
  • 2014 -current: Negotiation Strategies (MBA)
  • 2013-current: Economic Analysis for HRIR (PhD).

Online

Teaching Highlights
  • From Spring 2016 - 2020, I taught 14 classes, and their average student rating was 5.81/6.00. The top quartile of Carlson grad classes starts at 5.70
  • Negotiation Strategies and Compensation and Benefits were fully online and the average scores were above 5.80/6.00.
  • Voted by HRIR Master's students as top instructor in 2018 and 2020
  • As of January 2021, over 30,000 Coursera learners have enrolled in Managing Employee Compensation, with an average rating of 4.7/5.0 among over 1,300 raters