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Recruiting for Ideas: How Firms Exploit the Prior Inventions of New Hires

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  • Jasjit Singh
  • Ajay K. Agrawal

Abstract

When firms recruit inventors, they acquire not only the use of their skills but also enhanced access to their stock of ideas. But do hiring firms actually increase their use of the new recruits’ prior inventions? Our estimates suggest they do, quite significantly in fact, by approximately 202% on average. However, this does not necessarily reflect widespread “learning-by-hiring.” In fact, we estimate that a recruit’s exploitation of her own prior ideas accounts for almost half of the above effect. Furthermore, although one might expect the recruit’s role to diminish rapidly as her tacit knowledge diffuses across her new firm, our estimates indicate that her importance is surprisingly persistent over time. We base these findings on an empirical strategy that exploits the variation over time in hiring firms’ citations to the recruits’ pre-move patents. Specifically, we employ a difference-in-differences approach to compare pre-move versus post-move citation rates for the recruits’ prior patents and the corresponding matched-pair control patents. Our methodology has three benefits compared to previous studies that also examine the link between labor mobility and knowledge flow: 1) it does not suffer from the upward bias inherent in the conventional cross-sectional comparison, 2) it generates results that are robust to a more stringently matched control sample, and 3) it enables a temporal examination of knowledge flow patterns.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15869.

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Date of creation: Apr 2010
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Publication status: published as Jasjit Singh & Ajay Agrawal, 2011. "Recruiting for Ideas: How Firms Exploit the Prior Inventions of New Hires," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(1), pages 129-150, January.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15869

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  1. “Recruiting for Ideas: How Firms Exploit the Prior Inventions of New Hires,” J. Singh & A. Agrawal (2011)
    by afinetheorem in A Fine Theorem on 2013-02-28 08:42:43
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Cited by:
  1. Dietmar Harhoff & Elisabeth Mueller & John Van Reenen, 2013. "What are the channels for technology sourcing? Panel data evidence from German companies," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51524, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Rosina Moreno & Ernest Miguélez, 2012. "A Relational Approach To The Geography Of Innovation: A Typology Of Regions," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(3), pages 492-516, 07.
  3. Ernest Miguélez & Rosina Moreno, 2013. "“Mobility, networks and innovation: The role of regions’ absorptive capacity”," AQR Working Papers 201308, University of Barcelona, Regional Quantitative Analysis Group, revised Oct 2013.
  4. Ann-Kathrine Ejsing & Ulrich Kaiser & Hans Christian Kongsted & Keld Laursen, 2013. " The Role of University Scientist Mobility for Industrial Innovation," Working Papers 336, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
  5. Harhoff, Dietmar, 2012. "What are the Channels for Technology Sourcing? Panel Data Evidence from German Companies," Discussion Papers in Business Administration 14327, University of Munich, Munich School of Management.
  6. Michael Roach & Wesley M. Cohen, 2012. "Lens or Prism? Patent Citations as a Measure of Knowledge Flows from Public Research," NBER Working Papers 18292, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Riccardo Crescenzi, 2014. "The evolving dialogue between Innovation and Economic Geography. From physical distance to non-spatial proximities and 'integrated' frameworks," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1408, Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography, revised Mar 2014.
  8. Stoyanov, Andrey & Zubanov, Nikolay, 2013. "Money on the Table? Firms' and Workers' Gains from Productivity Spillovers through Worker Mobility," IZA Discussion Papers 7702, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Asheim, Bjørn & M. Bugge, Markus & Coenen, Lars & Herstad, Sverre, 2013. "What Does Evolutionary Economic Geography Bring To The Policy Table? Reconceptualising regional innovation systems," CIRCLE Electronic Working Papers 2013/5, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.
  10. Ralf R. Meisenzahl & Joel Mokyr, 2011. "The Rate and Direction of Invention in the British Industrial Revolution: Incentives and Institutions," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity Revisited, pages 443-479 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Ralf Meisenzahl & Joel Mokyr, 2011. "The Rate and Direction of Invention in the British Industrial Revolution: Incentives and Institutions," NBER Working Papers 16993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Pierre Azoulay & Joshua S. Graff Zivin & Bhaven N. Sampat, 2011. "The Diffusion of Scientific Knowledge across Time and Space: Evidence from Professional Transitions for the Superstars of Medicine," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity Revisited, pages 107-155 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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