Multinational firms are believed to impact the productivity of domestic firms through worker mobility. Fosfuri et al. (J Int Econ 53:205–222, 2001) suggest that worker mobility and technological spillovers are more likely to materialize when the local and the multinational firm do not compete fiercely in the product market. We assess empirically the importance of the hypothesis by using the Finnish longitudinal employer–employee data. Consistent with the predictions of the model, we find that competition is negatively related to worker mobility but only in high-tech industries where productivity spillovers are present. Thus, our results detail a channel through which competition may negatively affect the productivity of purely domestic firms.