FIN 455 Financial Markets and Human Capital

(English only)

General Information

The organization of markets have changed significantly in recent decades. Trans­action costs in capital markets have declined, and now provide firms with much better access to private equity, venture capital, and tailorized products. Product markets have internationalized and resulted in more complex and widely distributed supply chains. And labor markets have been affected by the trend towards the gig economy and firms’ increased reliance on innovation and intangible assets. The last aspect is key, because we need to ask how firms can develop a competitive advantage if their key assets are employees whose human capital they cannot control. All these developments have a significant impact on how firms are managed, owned, financed, and organized.
This course surveys and discusses recent findings on the interface between financial markets and firms’ employees and their human capital. Much of the textbook discussions in various subfields of business and economics is still based on traditional paradigms, which view firms as collection of physical assets that generate cash flows, and which see financial markets as mainly occupied with valuing and distributing these cash flows. Yet, recent research has moved on from this paradigm and recognizes that this traditional conception is in serious need of overhaul, but much of this change in thinking and many of these new findings have not found their way into business education. This course is intended to fill this gap.

Further Information

  • Learning Outcomes

    After successfully completing this course, students should be able to do the following:

    • Assess business situations that affect the labor force and understand what is special about human capital.
    • Analyze the relations­hip between firms' labor force (e.g., commitment to employ-ment insurance, difficulties in attracting and retaining employees, job satisfaction) and how financial markets relate to these decisions (valuation, choice of owner­ship, capital structure).
    • Understand how the markets for key employees (top and middle managers, CEOs, di-rectors, innovators) are organized, and why they sometimes feature sky-rocketing levels and complex structures of compensation.
    • Evaluate how financial trans­actions like buyouts, mergers and acquisitions, and recap-italizations affect employees and the composition and compensation of firms' labor force.
    • Assess the composition of the workforce, and when diversity of skills and opinions is useful and when it is harmful for decision-making and firm value.
    • Develop a toolbox of theoretical concepts relevant for analyzing human capital issues (and beyond).
    • Gain sound knowledge of empirical facts that are not yet available in a comprehen-sive written textbook or survey format.
    • Ground ethical discussions of firms' human resource policies in a sound understand-ing of theory and empirical facts.
  • Prerequisites

    • Formal: semester 4 or higher
    • Recommended: The course requires cross-disciplinary thinking and understanding of key concepts in accounting, finance, economics, and management at the level of the respective courses in the Bachelor curriculum. The course will introduce key theoretical concepts in economics (e.g., signalling, hold-up problems, principal-agent relations, etc.). No prior knowledge of these concepts is assumed, and all requisite tools from game theory and mi-croeconomics will be introduced at a relatively informal level. However, tolerance for han-dling abstract concepts is required.
  • Registration

    Registration is via Portal2.

  • Policy regarding the revision of corrected exams

    If you believe that your exam was not fairly graded (e.g., a mistake in the correction or unfair allocation of points), you can ask for your exam to be regraded. In such a case, you must provide a written statement in which you request a complete revision of your exam, provide reasons for why you believe to deserve more credit, and ask for regrading. Please note that we will regrade the entire exam and not just the passages for which you request regrading. The revision may also negatively affect your grade (e.g., we spot a mistake that was not previously identified). We will not modify the grade on the day of the exam revision.