Markets for Inventors: Learning-by-Hiring as a Driver of Mobility Articles uri icon

publication date

  • May 2010

start page

  • 881

end page

  • 895


  • 5


  • 56

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0025-1909

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1526-5501


  • Hiring away inventors has long been recognized as a way of learning used by innovative firms. This paper claims that the characteristics of the knowledge accumulated by an inventor at his
    current employer affect what hiring firms can learn from him. The
    is that some inventors are more likely to be hired
    away than their coworkers. We analyze the relationship between the type
    of knowledge embodied by inventors working at IBM
    and their probability of moving. Relying on patent data to track the
    of inventors across firms and to characterize the
    kind of know-how they hold, we identify the following drivers of
    mobility: the quality of their work; the
    complementarity of their knowledge with that of other inventors; and, to
    a lower
    extent, their expertise in the firm's core areas in
    which the firm is not a dominant player. Results confirm the role of
    characteristics behind the mobility of research and
    development personnel and suggest that learning is a relevant force in
    the market for inventors.