The Influence of Capital Structure on Strategic Human Capital: Evidence From U.S. and Canadian Firms

Xiangmin Liu, Danielle D. van Jaarsveld, Rosemary Batt, Ann C. Frost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Strategic human capital research has emphasized the importance of human capital as a resource for sustained competitive advantage, but firm investments in this intangible asset vary considerably. This article examines whether and how external pressures on firms from capital markets influence their human capital strategy. These pressures have increased over the past three decades due to banking deregulation, technological innovation, and the rise of institutional investors and new financial intermediaries. Against this backdrop, this study examines whether a firm's capital structure as measured by share turnover, shareholder concentration, and financial leverage is associated with firm investment in strategic human capital. Based on survey and objective financial data from 221 establishments in the United States and Canada, our analysis indicates that firms with greater share turnover, higher shareholder concentration, and higher levels of financial leverage are less likely to invest in human resource systems that create strategic human capital. Differences in national financial systems also lead to differential effects for U.S. and Canadian firms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-448
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Finance
  • Strategy and Management


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