Companies with an Inventor CEO Produced Higher Quality Innovation, Study Finds

A recent study, reported by HBR, found that companies with a CEO who was named as an inventor on at least one patent, were awarded more patents and those patents were more commercially valuable and scientifically influential than patents granted to companies led by non-inventors. Further the study found that the patents of inventor CEO led companies were more likely to be radical and breakthrough in nature.

The study found evidence that the CEO Inventor connection to quality innovation could be causal:

“We found that, relative to the control group of transitions, the output and impact of patents significantly declined after the departure of an Inventor CEO. This decline in innovation activity occurred mainly in the technology classes where the outgoing Inventor CEOs had their experience, again pointing to the direct influence of an Inventor CEO on their firm’s innovation success.”

The authors of the study suggest that the better innovation results of Inventor CEO led companies “can be explained by an Inventor CEO’s superior ability to evaluate, select, and execute innovative investment projects related to their own hands-on experience.”