Sekou Bermiss

Sekou Bermiss

The Devil You Know: Human Capital Selection in Temporary Organizations

Sekou Bermiss, Associate Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship, UNC Kenon-Flagler

Thursday, March 7, 2024 - 1:30pm - 3:00pm


While the presence of temporary organizations is on the rise, research in this domain has principally focused on firm-level activities. As such, we have little understanding about the intra-organizational human capital dynamics within temporary organizations. In this paper, the authors examine the hiring strategy of temporary organizations and how it impacts performance. The context for this study is U.S. congressional campaigns, temporary organizations reconstituted every two years. The authors conducted a qualitative inductive analysis of eight case studies of congressional campaigns during the 2020 election cycle to identify the primary factors that campaigns use to select employees.  The authors then analyze how these factors influence organizational performance using a novel archival dataset of all U.S. congressional campaign staff members from 2003-2016 (n=132,113).  The authors find mixed results for the dominant hiring strategy; prior shared experience has an inverted u-shaped relationship with performance of primary goal (vote share), but a weak negative relationship with performance of secondary goal (fundraising). The results suggest that for temporary organizations, hiring employees with more shared work experience can be an effective strategy for performance, but may be ineffective for goals where network closure is detrimental to achieving organizational goals.


Dr. Sekou Bermiss is an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kenan-Flagler Business School. Dr. Bermiss research is in the area of strategic management and organizational theory. Specifically, he investigates how institutional factors shape the perception of firms by critical stakeholders. His award-winning research has been published in Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, and Research in Organizational Behavior. His research has also been highlighted by Harvard Business Review and National Public Radio. Before entering academia, Dr. Bermiss worked as a management consultant for Deloitte & Touche in New York City. He received his PhD and MS management and organizations from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and his BS in chemical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.