Are inventors or firms the engines of innovation?

Ajay Bhaskarabhatla, Luis Cabral, Deepak Hegde, Thomas Peeters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
196 Downloads (Pure)


In this study, we empirically assess the contributions of inventors and firms for innovation using a 37-year panel of U.S. patenting activity. We estimate that inventors' human capital is 5-10 times more important than firm capabilities for explaining the variance in inventor output. We then examine matching between inventors and firms and find highly talented inventors are attracted to firms that (i) have weak firm-specific invention capabilities and (ii) employ other talented inventors. A theoretical model that incorporates worker preferences for inventive output rationalizes our empirical findings of negative assortative matching between inventors and firms and positive assortative matching among inventors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3899-3920
Number of pages22
JournalManagement Science
Issue number6
Early online date7 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

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© 2021 INFORMS Inst.for Operations Res.and the Management Sciences. All rights reserved.


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