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Academic Positions

July 2013 - Present

Assistant Professor
University of Minnesota- Twin Cities
Carlson School of Management
Work & Organizations Group

Graduate Faculty, Applied Economics
Graduate Faculty, Minnesota Population Center
Member, Social Media and Business Analytics Collaborative (SOBACO)



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)


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


Works in Progress

  • Benson, Alan, and Ben A. Rissing. "Strength from Within: Individual and Store-Level Evidence Transfers Outperform Hires." Under revision.
  • Ranganathan, Aruna, and Alan Benson. "A Stitch in Time: Work Complexity and the Divergent Effects of Employee Monitoring on Productivity." Under revision.
  • Benson, Alan, Akhmed Umyarov, and Aaron Sojourner. "Can Reputation Discipline the Gig Economy? Experimental Evidence from an Online Labor Market." Under revision.
  • Benson, Alan, Danielle Li, and Kelly Shue. “Promotions and the Peter Principle.” Under review.
  • Benson, Alan, Danielle Li, and Kelly Shue. “Incentives in Recessions.” Working paper.

Fellowships and Honors

  • 2018, John Dunlop Outstanding Young Scholar Award, from LERA
  • 2017, Second prize, best research paper competition, from Wharton People Analytics Conference, for "Hemming and Hawing over Hawthorne”
  • 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


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, Washington; Society of Institutional and Organizational Economists (SIOE) in Montreal, Quebec; Labor and Employment Relations (LERA) meetings in Baltimore, MD (Dunlop award); Academy of Management meetings (AOM) in Chicago, IL (panel on people analytics)


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 School of Business 3rd Annual 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


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


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)


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


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


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


    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.


    MIT Sloan Economic Sociology Working Group Seminar; MIT Sloan IWER Seminar; MIT Economics Labor Lunch


      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 sales analytics: 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”


      • 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
      • Bloomberg - "Good employee vs good boss," 02/20/18
      • 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
      • 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
      • 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
      • 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
      • Forbes - Rodd Wagner's "New Evidence the Peter Principle is Real, and What to Do About It," 4/10/18
      • Grand Forks Herald - Ethan Nelson's "In ND, New Overtime Rule Will Have Bigger Effect Than in Minnesota" 6/11/16
      • Knowledge@Wharton - "Are Good Managers Born or Made?" 3/15/16
      • LA Times - Op Ed, "How to manage the financial risks of investing in college," 12/25/13
      • Grand Forks Herald – Ethan Nelson’s “In ND, New Overtime Rule Will Have Bigger Effect Than in Minnesota," 6/11/16
      • Harvard Business Review - Alan Benson, Kelly Shue, and Danielle Li's "Do people really get promoted to their level of incompetence?" 3/8/18
      • HR Executive - Mark McGraw's "Gender and the Global Mobility Gap," 4/20/15
      • Knowledge@Wharton - "Are Good Managers Born or Made?," 3/15/16
      • Minneapolis-St Paul Business Journal - Patrick Rehkamp's "Minneapolis Park Board's Ill-Timed Goodbye Gifts," 1/15/16
      • 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
      • PBS Newshour - Article and TV mention, "6 Rules to Help You Make the Best College Decision", 1/14/15
      • 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
      • 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
      • 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
      • 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
      • 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


      • Refereeing: Demography, Economic Inquiry, ILR Review, Industrial Relations, Journal of Economic Growth, Journal of Labor Economics, Journal of Marriage and the Family, Management Science, Organization Science, Perspectives on Work, Quarterly Journal of Economics
      • Service Teaching: Managing Employee Compensation on Coursera
      • Conferences: Organizer for 2016 and 2017 LERA Jr Faculty Consortiums, 2018 Mitsui Labor-Finance conference
      • Negotiation Workshops: Hennepin County, MN; University of Minnesota (libraries, professional & administrative employees, various departments and student groups); HR Tomorrow conference; Twin Cities Compensation Network; various professional conferences
      • Committees: PhD Program Committee 2013-2016, People Analytics Committee 2015-2016, Work and Organizations Department Executive Committee 2017-2018



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