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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 (by courtesy)
Graduate Faculty, Minnesota Population Center (by courtesy)
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), GPA 3.91
Thesis Title: “A Game Theoretic Approach to Social Dialogue”


Oxford University, Pembroke College
Exchange student (one year) in Economics and Management

Fellowships and Honors

  • MPC Outstanding Research Award and Grant, for "Re-Thinking the Two Body Problem: The Segregation of Women into Geographically Flexible Occupations."
  • SOBACO Small Grant. 2014.
  • 65th LERA Meetings, Best Dissertation Award, for "Do Agents Game Their Agents' Behavior?" 2013.
  • Russell Sage Co-PI, “Is College Still Worth It?” 2012.
  • 64th LERA Meetings of the ASSA, Winner of Best Doctoral Student Paper, for "A Theory of Dual Job Search." 2012.
  • Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship. 2008.
  • MIT Presidential Graduate Fellowship. 2007.
  • Joel Seidman Memorial Prize, for “A Game Theoretic Approach to Social Dialogue." 2007
  • Irving M. Ives Award, for service to the ILR School. 2007.
  • Golden Key Outstanding Membership Award for Community Service. 2007.
  • Hunter R. Rawlings III Cornell Presidential Research Scholarship. 2005.
  • Undergraduate Academic Research Fellowship. 2004. 


Works in Progress

  • Benson, Alan, Raimundo Estevan, and Frank Levy. “Dropouts, Taxes, and Risk: The Economic Return to College under Realistic Assumptions.” Working Paper.
  • Benson, Alan, Danielle Li, and Kelly Shue. 2014. “When Good Promotion Tournaments Make Bad Matches: Evidence of the Peter Principle in Sales.” Working Paper.
  • Benson, Alan, Danielle Li, and Kelly Shue. 2014. “Incentives in Recessions.” Working Paper.
  • Benson, Alan, Akhmed Umyarov, and Aaron Sojourner. 2014. The Value of Employer Reputation in the Absence of Contract Enforcement: Evidence from a Field Experiment." Working Paper.

Invited Talks

"The Value of Employer Reputation in the Absence of Contract Enforcement: Evidence from a Field Experiment."
  • MIT Organizational Economics Lunch, Fall 2014
  • MIT Conference on Digital Experimentation (CODE@MIT), Fall 2014
  • ASSA session, "Dissecting Job Search," Winter 2015

"The Economics of BA Ambivalence: The Case of California Higher Education."
  • Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management meetings in Segovia, Spain, Fall 2014

“Do Agents Game their Agents’ Behavior? Evidence from Sales Managers.”
  • ASSA session, "What Impact do Managers Really Have?" Spring 2014
  • 65th LERA Meetings in St. Louis (Winner- Best Dissertation), Summer 2013
  • Wharton School of Business Conference on People and Organizations (Plenary), Fall 2012
  • MIT Sloan Organizational Economics Lunch, Summer 2012
  • MIT Economics Applied Microeconomics Lunch, Spring 2012
  • Rutgers University, School of Management and Labor Relations, Fall 2012
  • University of Maryland, Smith School of Business, Fall 2012
  • University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, Winter 2013
  • University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management, Winter 2013
  • Case Western Reserve University, Department of Economics, Winter 2013
  • Duke University, Fuqua School of Business, Winter 2013
  • Johns Hopkins University, Carey Business School, Winter 2013
  • University of Illinois, School of Labor and Employment Relations, Winter 2013
  •  London Business School, Trans-Atlantic Doctoral Conference, Spring 2013
  • Cornell University, Institute for Compensation Research, Spring 2013
  • 66th LERA Meetings, Winter 2014
“A Theory of Dual Job Search and Sex-Based Occupational Clustering”
  • AEA session "Employment Structure and Inequality," Spring 2014
  • Best Student Paper Competition Finalist Talk (Winner) at the 64th LERA Meetings, Winter 2012
  • Wharton School of Business Conference on People and Organizations (Plenary), Fall 2011
  • Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Fall 2011
  • MIT IWER Seminar, Fall 2011
  • MIT Economics Labor Lunch, Fall 2011
  • American Sociological Association Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Summer 2011
  • Academy of Management Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Summer 2011
  • MOOD Doctoral Workshop in Economic Theory & Econometrics at the Einaudi Institute for
  • Economics and Finance (EIEF) in Rome, Summer 2011
  • IWAEE Conference in Catanzaro, Italy, Summer 2011
  • London Business School, Transatlantic Doctoral Conference, Spring 2011
  • MIT Sloan Economic Sociology Working Group, Summer 2010
  • MIT Sloan IWER Seminar, Spring 2010
  • MIT Economics Labor Lunch, Spring 2010

“Firm-Sponsored General Education and Mobility Frictions: Evidence from Hospitals’ Sponsorship of Nursing Schools and Faculty”

  • Wharton School of Business Conference on People and Organizations, Summer 2009
  • MIT Labor Economics Lunch, Spring 2009
  • MIT Sloan IWER Seminar, Fall 2008
  • American Rights at Work Conference at Georgetown University, Summer 2011

Other Professional Presentations: 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;” University of Minnesota P&A Professional Development Workshop, “The Principles of Interest Based Bargaining;” Minnesota Business Partnership EA Conference, “Negotiations and Our Career”; discussant at AEA meetings, IO Society meetings, LERA meetings


  • 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
  • CBS News Radio - Interview with Chris Filippi, 11/30/14
  • Chronicle of Higher Education - Scott Carlson's "Is college worth it? Two reports say yes (mostly)," 11/4/13
  • LA Times - Op Ed, "How to manage the financial risks of investing in college," 12/25/13
  • 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: ILR Review, Industrial Relations, Journal of Labor Economics, Perspectives on Work, Quarterly Journal of Economics
  • PhD Program Committee 2013-2015



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

Graduate Instructor/ Teaching Assistant (MIT)

  •  Sloan Fellows Math Review, 2009-2013
  • Power and Negotiations, John Richardson, 2012
  • Doctoral Seminar in Work & Employment, Thomas A. Kochan, 2012
  • Managing and Leading People and Organizations, Paul Osterman, 2010-2013
  • Power and Negotiations, Daniel J. Shapiro, 2009
  • Communicating with Data, Arnold Barnett, 2008-2009
  • Managerial Psychology, Dania Dialdin, 2012
  • People and Organizations, Thomas A. Kochan, 2008, 2010