Innovation Motivation: Behavioral Effects of Post-Employment Restrictions

47 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2010 Last revised: 22 Dec 2013

See all articles by On Amir

On Amir

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management

Orly Lobel

University of San Diego School of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 13, 2010


While post-employment restrictions may encourage firms to invest in employee skill and research and development (R&D), such restrictions may also under certain circumstances discourage employees from investing in their own human capital and work performance. The article reports the findings of an original experimental study designed to unpack the effects of post-employment restrictions on task performance. The results demonstrate that under certain conditions of contractual restrictions, when tasks involve pure effort and are relatively easy to perform, individuals will abandon the tasks at higher rates, spend less time on task, and overwhelmingly fail more often to find the correct solution. At the same time, our findings show that under the same restrictions but different types of tasks – tasks that invoke internal talent and creativity rather than pure effort – some of these effects, including time on task and quality of performance, largely disappear. Significant gaps in task completion remain even under the more creative tasks. Traditional economic models view post-employment restrictions, primarily covenants not-to-compete, as necessary limitations stemming from the assumption that absent such contractual protections, employers would under-invest in research and development and employee training. This study enriches the analysis of human capital development and proposes a dyadic-dynamic investment model. It demonstrates in an experimental setting that regulatory and contractual background affects motivation and performance. The article complements recent empirical evidence about positive spillovers effects stemming from increased labor mobility with a behavioral analysis that suggests further positive effects, offering a nuanced view of the costs and benefits of post-employment contractual and regulatory restrictions.

Keywords: behavioral economics, law and psychology, experimental economics, task performance, IP, employment, post-employment restrictions, labor market mobility, non-competes, EIP, motivation, contract, innovation, spillovers, human capital

JEL Classification: C7, D43, C91, J2, J31, J41, j6, K31, K12, J24, R58

Suggested Citation

Amir, On and Lobel, Orly, Innovation Motivation: Behavioral Effects of Post-Employment Restrictions (July 13, 2010). San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 10-32, Available at SSRN:

On Amir

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Rady School of Management
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States
858-534-2023 (Phone)
858-534-0745 (Fax)


Orly Lobel (Contact Author)

University of San Diego School of Law ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States


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