Wage dispersion and firm performance: evidence from Kazakhstan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The aim of the paper is to explore within-firm vertical pay inequality and its relation to firm size and firm performance. Design/methodology/approach: Using firm-level microdata for Kazakhstan, the authors measure within-firm pay inequality as the wage differential between the top- and the bottom-level job occupations. The authors carry out their analysis based on panel regression models. Findings: The authors find that within-firm pay inequality increases as firms grow. Further, they identify that this trend is mainly driven by top-occupation workers receiving more significant wage increases compared to lower-level workers as firms expand. Once the authors address concerns about endogeneity, they find that pay inequality is negatively associated with firm performance. Practical implications: Developing strategies and policies that prioritize fairness and transparency in compensation practices is crucial during the expansion process of firms. By actively discouraging rent-seeking behavior, firms can create a work environment that promotes productivity and sustainability, ultimately leading to improved firm performance. The research findings highlight the importance of implementing context-specific interventions, recognizing that different environments may require tailored approaches to address pay inequality effectively. Originality/value: This study contributes to the study of within-firm pay inequality, firm size and performance in an emerging economy, an area that has been largely overlooked in previous empirical research. The contrasting findings show the importance of the structural and industrial characteristics of emerging markets that contribute to broader and deeper impact of pay inequality compared to developed economies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Manpower
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Firm size
  • Job occupations
  • Pay inequality
  • Performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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