Inventor CEOs

56 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2018 Last revised: 11 Jan 2019

See all articles by Emdad Islam

Emdad Islam

Monash University

Jason Zein

UNSW Business School; Financial Research Network (FIRN)

Date Written: December 5, 2018


One-in-five U.S. high-technology firms are led by CEOs with hands-on innovation experience as inventors. Firms led by “Inventor CEOs” are associated with higher quality innovation, especially when the CEO is a high-impact inventor. During an Inventor CEO’s tenure, firms file a greater number of patents and more valuable patents in technology-classes where the CEO’s hands-on experience lies. Utilizing plausibly exogenous CEO turnovers to address the matching of CEOs to firms suggests these effects are causal. The results can be explained by an Inventor CEO’s superior ability to evaluate, select and execute innovative investment projects related to their own hands-on experience.

Keywords: Inventor CEOs, CEO Style, Innovation, Human Capital

JEL Classification: G32, G34, J24, O31, O32

Suggested Citation

Islam, Emdad and Zein, Jason, Inventor CEOs (December 5, 2018). Journal of Financial Economics (JFE), Forthcoming, 31st Australasian Finance and Banking Conference 2018 , Available at SSRN: or

Emdad Islam

Monash University ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3168

Jason Zein (Contact Author)

UNSW Business School ( email )

Sydney, NSW 2052
+61 2 93855858 (Phone)
+61 2 93855858 (Fax)

Financial Research Network (FIRN)

C/- University of Queensland Business School
St Lucia, 4071 Brisbane


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