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Keywords:

  • turnover;
  • resource-based view;
  • knowledge management;
  • human capital;
  • competitive dynamics

Abstract

This article elaborates on extant literature on employee mobility by focusing on how the movement of personnel between competitors affects their competitive positions. Our mixed-methods study of 402 head-to-head encounters from the English Premier League (2000–2005) reveals that transferred players improve the performance of the recipient team in head-to-head encounters against the donor. We also provide evidence that competitive arousal, as triggered by anger and pressures for proving loyalty to the recipient organization, as well as knowledge of the donor team's routines, explain the superior performance of transferred players. These results question the traditional view that organizational routines are not transferable through employee mobility. They also move beyond a prior emphasis on the negative effects of emotional states such as anger and competitive arousal, highlighting how these can occasionally be beneficial. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.