Inventor CEOs and Firm Innovation

52 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2019

Date Written: December 19, 2018


Using a novel, manually-collected dataset, we find that firms whose chief executive officer (CEO) is an inventor experience significantly better innovation outcomes, as measured by patents and future citations. We obtain these results in models with firm fixed effects, in difference-in-difference analysis of transitioning CEOs that controls for the CEO fixed effects, and among firms with founder CEOs. Firms led by an inventor CEO also exhibit greater tolerance for failure as indicated by a greater number of both highly cited and uncited patents, and engage more in explorative search strategies that exploit new technological trajectories. Stock market, however, seems unable to fully capture the positive impact of inventor CEOs on future innovation: firms whose CEO transitions to be an inventor experience positive abnormal stock returns, especially during the early years following the transition.

Keywords: Innovation, R&D, Inventor CEO, Patents, Citations

JEL Classification: G14, J24, O31, O32

Suggested Citation

Bostan, Ibrahim and Mian, G. Mujtaba, Inventor CEOs and Firm Innovation (December 19, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Ibrahim Bostan (Contact Author)

Zayed University ( email )

P.O. Box 4783
United Arab Emirates

G. Mujtaba Mian

Zayed University

P.O. Box 19282
College of Business
Dubai, Dubai 19282
United Arab Emirates
+971568120604 (Phone)

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