Rewarding Employee Inventions in Corporations: Designing a Framework to Evaluate Adequacy of Remuneration and Offering an Optimal Remuneration System
European Journal of Innovation Management, Forthcoming
Posted: 21 Jul 2020
Date Written: March 9, 2020
Purpose - Reasonable remuneration of employee inventions is a controversial issue causing court litigation among employees and employers in many countries. The paper aims to shed light on the missing economic interpretation of the reasonable remuneration of employee inventions. Specifically, it focuses on the concept of “reason-ability” at the issue.
Design/methodology/approach - In an empirical qualitative multiple case-study setting, the paper explores inductively Czech corporate employee inventors' remuneration systems, using typological analysis and M. Weber's interpretative theoretical construct of “ideal type.”
Findings - At the first level, reason-ability is a function of multi-amount rewarding, a certain level of total remuneration and identifiable benefits being a decisive factor. Additionally, the reason-ability is conceptualized as a function of two dimensions – timing/risk and benefit–reward relation. At the second level, the reason-ability is interpreted as a concept balancing seven points of view: timing, materiality, equity, risk management, transparency, system costs and exactness. At the third level, the paper offers an optimal remuneration system like the one that optimizes developed seven-criterion framework.
Research limitations/implications - Even if analysed within one-country and nine-company context, the insights are generalisable across a broader sample of countries with statutory rules for employee inventions. Studying more cases may enrich the findings. The findings are based merely on a rational perspective and do not deal with psychological aspects of employees.
Practical implications - The results may be helpful for intellectual property or R&D managers in building or reorganizing employee invention remuneration systems within corporations. The developed seven-criteria model can serve as a discussion framework; the suggested optimal system as a reference point. The results may serve as well to consultants, judges or other parties involved in currently growing employee–employer controversies and litigation. The analysis may fuel public policy decisions, too.
Originality/value - The paper brings unique and detailed empirical insights into the issue of employee inventions. It offers a complex multi-perspective (employee/employer) framework through which the reason-ability can be discussed and suggests an optimal system, which can serve as a reference point.
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