Monetary Incentives for Corporate Inventors: Intrinsic motivation, project selection and inventive performance

Author Name ONISHI Koichiro (Osaka Institute of Technology) / OWAN Hideo (Faculty Fellow, RIETI) / NAGAOKA Sadao (Faculty Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. June 2015 15-E-071
Research Project Research on Innovation Process and its Institutional Infrastructure
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Using novel panel data on Japanese inventors, we investigate how monetary incentives affect corporate inventors' behavior and performance, as well as how they interact with the strength of intrinsic motivation. In order to identify the effects, we exploit inventors' responses to a policy change in Japan in the early 2000s that forced firms to strengthen monetary incentives for inventors. Our major findings are as follows: (1) while introducing or increasing revenue-based payments is associated with a small improvement in patent quality, such schemes significantly decrease the use of science in research and development (R&D) projects; (2) the above positive effect of revenue-based payment on patent quality is smaller and the negative effect on scientific intensity is greater in research areas where risk heterogeneity among potential projects is greater; (3) the strength of intrinsic motivation is significantly associated with the inventor's patent productivity; and (4) strong intrinsic motivation weakens the marginal effect of monetary incentive on inventive productivity, and reinforces the negative effect of monetary incentive on scientific intensity in research areas where risk heterogeneity among potential projects is sufficiently large. The results are consistent with our model predictions and imply that strengthening monetary incentives changes project selection toward less risky and less exploratory ones.

*This is the English version of the Japanese Discussion Paper (14-J-044).

Published: Onishi, Koichiro, Hideo Owan, and Sadao Nagaoka, 2021. "How do inventors respond to financial incentives? Evidence from unanticipated court decisions on employees’ inventions in Japan," The Journal of Law and Economics, Volume 64, Number 2, 301-339.