Incentives and innovation? R&D management in Germany's chemical and electrical engineering industries around 1900
The allocation of intellectual property rights between firms and employed researchers causes a principal-agent problem between the two parties. We investigate the working contracts of researchers employed by German chemical and electrical engineering firms at the turn of the 20th century and show that the firms were aware of the principal-agent problem and offered performance-related compensation schemes to their scientists. We show that past bonuses are positively correlated with current patenting, whereas past total income is negatively associated with current patenting. Thus, we discover a trade-off between level and structure of compensation on the one hand and patenting activity on the other.
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