Research Conversation with Management PhD Candidate Di Tong

PhD Candidate Di Tong

Enter the Research Conversation with Di Tong

What are the performance implications for firms based on their human capital composition?

While many jobs nowadays can be automated by machines/computers, other jobs have become, or often are, knowledge-intensive and human-dependent. Managing people involves much more than simply getting the best talent. Rather, my research shows that, among other things, creating a good balance of specialists and generalists is critical for firms to remain competitive, especially in knowledge-intensive industries.

Division of labor and individual specialization are good, but you also need to have people with broad-based knowledge to act as conduits to absorb new knowledge and as lubricants to create organizational flexibility. Preliminary results from a project I’m currently working on show that firms with more generalist inventors are better able to integrate distinct knowledge carried by newly recruited inventors, likely because generalists are better at spotting and transmitting knowledge unfamiliar to narrowly focused specialists. Also, generalists, with their jack-of-all-trades character, are easier to be assigned and reassigned to various tasks as needed. This type of “redeployability” arguably provides greater flexibility to firms and can be especially valuable in more turbulent environment.


PhD Candidate



Area of Research

Human capital and firm performance



Fast Fact

I am a decent cook even though I don’t cook that often.

PhD Open House Part 1: PhD Overview

PhD Open House Part 2: Q&A Session