Łukasz Bryl, Ph.D., Department of International Economics, Poznan University of Economics and Business, Al. Niepodleglości 10, 61-875 Poznań, Poland, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


In the knowledge-based economy, long-term corporate performance and its competitive advantage are strongly associated with human capital. Theoretical deliberations suggest that companies with greater human capital orientation (higher salaries and benefits, more training, a transformational leadership style, better equipment) might perform better than their peers with less human capital orientated strategy due to: higher skills of employees, greater motivation and thus higher overall corporate effectveness. On the other hand, orientation towards human capital generates higher costs which may negatively affect profitability and stock market valuation. There are two aims of this paper. The first one is to state whether human capital orientated firms generate positive financial performance. The second aim is to compare financial performance of human capital orientated firms with the benchmarking sample to state if the financial performance is above-average. Research was conducted on a sample of 7,204 unique publicly listed companies from the American stock market within ten years (72,040 from-year observations). Empirical studies were carried out with the help of one hypothesis. Two groups of companies were created and their results on financial performance were compared. The first group consisted of human capital orientated firms that were identified with the help of the well-known 100 Best Companies to Work For listing, in line with the Edmans (2009) approach. The second group composed of US-based publicly listed entities from 11 industries. Analysis was conducted for the 2007-2017 years. The key findings of the paper are: strategy based on human capital orientation provides high profitability and leads to above-average financial performance, mainly in the field of equity growth and stock market valuation. The paper has significant practical implications for investors in terms of possible directions of stock market investments aimed at achieving above-average returns as well as for corporate management by indicating that human capital orientation pays off. The paper fills the research gap between two points. First, it states in which financial performance pillars human capital orientated firms perform best. Second, it compares the results of the human capital orientated strategy with the entities from the 11 different industries. Research refers to the American publicly listed enterprises.

Keywords: knowledge-based economy, human capital, financial performance, mulitnatonalites.