Skip navigation
Hardcover | Out of Print | 160 pp. | 6 x 9 in | November 1995 | ISBN: 9780262121880
Paperback | $40.00 Short | £32.95 | 160 pp. | 6 x 9 in | April 2009 | ISBN: 9780262512947
Mouseover for Online Attention Data

Personnel Economics


Contrary to popular opinion, human resources, in general, and personnel, in particular, are well-suited to economic analysis. Edward Lazear, who founded the subfield of personnel economics, provides a quick introduction for economists who have not studied the area. He clearly and engagingly summarizes his and others' work that has taken place during the past fifteen years, including recent advances in the field.

Mainstream economic theory has been considered too abstract to be of much practical use in the hiring, organizing, and motivating of employees, leaving the field of personnel to industrial psychologists and sociologists. In this book Edward Lazear shows that economic analysis can be extended to an important, but traditionally neglected, class of practical problems. He shows that by adding more detail and structure to their theory, economists can make specific predictions and prescriptions for personnel issues that arise in business on a daily basis. Lazear focuses on compensation and its relation to worker motivation, selection, and teamwork. He also discusses job design, job evaluation, institutional arrangements, and directions for future research.


“"Lazear sketches a comprehensive survey of a field he has essentially invented. This work has changed the way labor economics is taught in business schools as well as in economics departments and is likely to provoke further changes in the future. He presents rigorous, careful, and highly original economic analysis of a wide variety of personnel practices and empirical phenomena that are essential to the field."”
Sherwin Rosen, Department of Economics, University of Chicago
“"As a primary contributor to the literature pertaining to personnel issues, Edward Lazear has written a book designed to be an overview of recent advances in the field. This book constitutes a formidable achievement and the issues are covered in an interesting and consistent fashion."”
Canice Prendergast, Graduate School of business, University of Chicago
“"Lazear's book is a great success. It is very clearly and carefully written. Experts in human resources and labor economics will want to own a copy for the excellent summary of Lazear's own work and his assessment of the state of the literature."”
James R. Rebitzer, Associate Professor at the Sloan School of Management, MIT
“"Ed Lazaear demonstrates in this book in an elegant way that economic arguments have a central role to play in human resource management. With the many examples he also demonstrates that the new Economics of Personnel is a useful tool for practitioners. As a Business School professor myself, I consider Ed Lazear's book as extremely valuable for the teaching of Personnel Economics at Business Schools."”
Niels Westergard-Nielsen, Director, Professor of Economics, Centre for Labour Market and Social Research
“"Applying the basic tools of economic analysis Lazear derives in this 160 odd page book new insightful ways of motivating and explaining the applied field of Personnel to the benefit of students as well as scholars, businessmen as well as economists. It is amazing how much extra mileage he gets fueling topics such as employee compensation, evalutation, job design, hiring and firing with economic principles."”
Jules Theeuwes, University of Leiden, co-editor of Labour Economics: an International Journal
“"Over the past 20 years Lazear has created and developed the study of the economics of personnel. This volume summarizes his fundamental contributions and provides a guide to economists about how to think systematically about what are loosely called internal labor markets. To human resource practitioners it demonstrates the value of using economic analysis to understand personnel policies."”
Daniel S. Hamermesh, Centennial Professor of Economics, University of Texas


Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 1996

Winner of the 1998 Leo Melamed Prize sponsored by the Journal of Business