Rewards for patents and inventor behaviors in industrial research and development

Marco S. Giarratana, Myriam Mariani, Ingo Weller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (SciVal)


This study investigates the effects of rewards in a research and development (R&D) setting in which employees' inventive efforts lead to patented inventions. Pay for performance (PFP) for inventions is associated with two challenges: Low-quality inventions may be rewarded (false positives), and high-quality inventions may be overlooked (false negatives). Building on previous findings regarding the motivational and informational effects of rewards, we use social identity theory to predict that different types of inventors react differently to such false positive and false negative information. Specifically, we hypothesize that PFP that produces false positives has detrimental effects on corporate inventors with a taste for science, who are motivated by scientific prestige, reputation, and intellectual curiosity. The empirical results from survey data related to 3, 995 inventor-patent pairs show that, for this particular group of inventors, false positives are associated with reduced effort in research activities and fewer interactions with peers in the R&D department. In addition, these effects are stronger when firms have many patents and thus provide less noisy information to corporate inventors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-292
Number of pages29
JournalAcademy of Management Journal
Issue number1
Early online date30 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


Dive into the research topics of 'Rewards for patents and inventor behaviors in industrial research and development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this