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Conceptualizing employees’ digital skills as signals delivered to employers

Ya’arit Bokek-Cohen (Human Resource Studies Division, School of Sciences, Achva Academic College, Arugot, Israel)

International Journal of Organization Theory & Behavior

ISSN: 1093-4537

Article publication date: 12 March 2018




The purpose of this paper is to conceptualize employees’ digital skills as signals with which employees tacitly deliver information about their competence and suitability to the firm.


The paper draws on the Spence’s signaling theory.


Applying Spence’s signaling theory and Walther and Parks’s warranting theory enables the conceptualization of digital skills as signals and warrants among older workers who have been employed in their position for a longer period but nevertheless wish to demonstrate ongoing productivity.

Practical implications

It is recommended to use information about prospective or existent employees’ digital literacy as an indicator of high priority for the purpose of personnel selection, as it entails the acquisition of digital skills, which facilitate high productivity of most industries in today’s era.

Social implications

Older workers may wish to acquire digital skills in order to improve their career chances.


The paper is a theoretical contribution to the scholarship of digital literacy as well as to both signaling and warranting theories.



Bokek-Cohen, Y. (2018), "Conceptualizing employees’ digital skills as signals delivered to employers", International Journal of Organization Theory & Behavior, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 17-27.



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